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Not exactly. California is a community property state, so presuming your home was not your wife's separate property, & assuming your home was acquired during marriage, your new tax basis in your principal residence would be 1/2 of the original cost of the property, plus 1/2 of any major improvements, plus 1/2 of the fair market value at your wife's date of death, plus 100% of any major improvements (everything except routine maintenance items) between the date of your wife's death and the date you sell the property plus any selling expenses.
In the way of explanation, the initial 1/2 amounts represent your share of original cost & improvements & 1/2 of the FMV at your wife's date of death represents her shared which is "stepped up" to the FMV at her date of death; plus 100% of whatever happens after that.
The only assumption that is incorrect is that my wife purchase this home prior to our marriage although my name was added at a latter date
Well, the question would turn on whether or not it was considered her separate property; if it was then 100% of the value would be adjusted to the fair market value at her date of death. However, in California, that determination can be a tricky thing to figure out; was there a mortgage on the property when she put your name on the deed? Did you both merge your funds and operate with joint checking accounts, etc. Did you both work? How long were you married?
Those are some of the considerations. Also, remember that $250,000. of any gain would qualify for exclusion under the sale of principal residence rules as long as you lived in the home as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years ending on the date of sale.
I see what you mean about this being tricky. There was a mortgage when my name was added to the deed.
Did you own more than one home?
Although we had separate checking accounts we did merge our funds, both of us worked and we were married 30 years
Yes A vacation home
Yes, a vacation home
The safest thing is to get them appraised. The rules are changing all the time; we have no idea what the rules will be if and when you sell (or not sell) the properties. For example, this year if you are in the 15% tax bracket or lower, there is no capital gains tax anyway.
Thank you for your help
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