Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

Learn more
VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

Learn more
Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

Learn more

Parent-Child Exclusion from Property Tax Reassessment Not Automatic…

By merv,

  Filed under: Elder Law, Probate & Estate Administration, Tax

Dear Mr. Miller:  I just received a tax bill from the county tax assessor for $10,000 more than it should be.  Something is wrong!   What can I do?

My Mom died 5 years ago.  I inherited the house.  It’s been rented out for some time.  This is the first property tax bill I have received.  According to the appraisal my attorney had me do, it was worth about $1.25M when she died.  But because of the parent/child exclusion from property tax re-assessment I am supposed to continue paying property tax at her old level, based on a $250,000 value. 

I called the tax assessor and they said there was nothing I could do about it–it was too late.  They had been mailing everything to my mom’s house for years.  This is going to force me to sell the house.  What can I do?

Panicked Daughter

Parent Child Exclusion
Claim Form Required
Time Limit
Prospective Relief
Hiding vs Checking
Update Addresses

Dear Panicked:

Parent Child Exclusion:  You have fallen into a giant trap.  Yes, you are correct, since you were the only one to inherit from your Mom and since you are her child, the property should have been exempt from re-assessment; so you should have kept the old property tax base and been paying tax at the $2,500 level instead of $10,250.

Claim Form Required:  But to get that treatment, a special claim form needs to be filed with the tax assessor to obtain that exemption.  The form is available on most tax assessor’s websites.  Often, they even mail it to you.  Depending on the circumstances, it is typically a very easy form to complete.  In the more complex situations, we generally send in the completed form for the client with a letter explaining what occurred with the inheritance and the reasons why the transaction qualifies for the exemption.

Time Limit:  Here’s the rub:  If you don’t file you don’t get the exemption and even if you do file but file late you may not get the exemption.  So as with most things in the law, you have to do things correctly. 

The time limit is three years after your Mom died or a transfer of the property to a third party, whichever occurs first.  This situation is over three years so you are obviously late and the property taxes for the last 5 years, along with penalties and interest will have to be paid.

Prospective Relief:  There is, however, one saving grace.  You can still apply for the exemption and obtain relief, but it will be prospective only.  Of course, that is certainly better than nothing. 

Hiding vs Checking: Now before all of my readers start feeling overly sorry for you, didn’t the fact that you had not received property tax bills in 5 years alert you to think that something was off?  Had you checked with the tax collector you would have noticed that the address had not been updated and that the property tax had increased substantially.  That should have caused you to start checking further and almost undoubtedly found out that you needed to file the exemption claim form.  In other words, no news is not necessarily good news.

Update Addresses:   The lesson to be learned is that you should make sure that all billing agencies (i.e. the tax assessor and collector) have updated addresses for you.  Don’t try to hide from these things.  And maybe you should speak to your attorney as to whether a claim form had been filed.  If so, you may be able to still save the family bacon.


3 responses to “Parent-Child Exclusion from Property Tax Reassessment Not Automatic…”

  1. ken hintz says:

    sage advice

  2. merv says:

    Glad we could be of help. Of course, that’s why it’s important to talk to your attorney when someone dies or when a parent gives a parcel of real estate.

  3. merv says:

    The types of glitches described in this article are the ones that are typically caught and prevented if people would simply consult a qualified attorney shortly after the death of a loved one.

Leave a Reply

About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning

Previous Next

    Free Consultation

    Call 760-436-8832

    Math Captcha 5 × 2 =