What does “gross estate” and “net estate” mean in California?
When a person dies and leaves an estate, its value needs to be ascertained. The decedent’s gross estate is the fair market value at the date of his or her death of all property that he or she owned. It includes everything which the decedent owned or in which he or she had any financial interest, like real estate, shares, or business partnerships, regardless of any debts owed and in whatever manner title to the property was held. For property held in concurrent ownership (meaning that the property is held by more than one person at the same time) – like joint tenancy or community property – only the decedent’s share is calculated in the gross estate.
The non-monetary value of the gross estate is appraised by a probate referee.
The net estate is the value after subtracting from the gross estate the total amount of any mortgages, liens, taxes, and other debts owed by the decedent at the time of his or her death.
An estate includes the things that a person owns. The things left by someone who has died can be distributed based on a Will, Trust, or Intestate laws. Estates have to be administered in the Probate Court if the estate meets certain criteria. See our Infographic on The Probate Process.
Probate Referee (noun):
In California a Probate Referee performs appraisal services for trusts and estates of all types of assets.
Joint Tenancy (noun):
The ownership of an estate or property jointly by two or more parties. The portion of each passing to the other owners on death.