When it comes to developing an estate plan, there can be a number of challenges that people across New Jersey can face. They may have to make some crucial decisions about who inherits what, whether they want to set up a trust and what they want to happen to any properties they may have. Each of these decisions can have a dramatic impact on a person’s friends and family, so they should be made purposefully.
However, it can be very difficult to even begin to make these decisions without have all the pertinent information, including property valuations. If this information is unavailable or inaccurate, it could have a significant effect on a person’s estate plan.
For example, a couple in New Jersey recently learned that an error in the appraisal of their home ended up costing them thousands of dollars in property taxes. Luckily, the home owners were able to learn about the mistake, but only after deciding to sell the property.
According to reports, the couple found themselves unable to keep up with rising property taxes after their home had apparently doubled in value after a reassessment of the town. Stunned by the enormous increase and saddled with steadily increasing tax payments, the couple decided to put the home up for sale. That is when a real estate agent suggested that an error had been made in the appraisal.
It was discovered that the town appraiser never entered the home during the reassessment and instead, made estimations. But these estimations were way off, adding more than 650 square feet and an extra luxury bathroom to the home’s value, sending their property tax payments through the roof.
Had the mistake never been made, it is possible that the family could have afforded to stay in the home. They would also not have made thousands of dollars in property tax that they did not owe. And if the couple had had plans to pass this property down to someone in the event of their death, that person could have also been responsible for paying the enormous property tax if the mistake was never discovered.
Mistakes like this one can cause serious issues for property owners, and they can happen to anyone. That is why it could be helpful to work with an attorney to have properties properly assessed during the estate planning process.
Source: The Star-Ledger, “Bamboozled: Property taxes soar after appraiser adds non-existent features to Maplewood home,” Karin Price, Jan. 27, 2014