Attorneys Jonathan G. Blattmachr and Alvina H. Lo wrote an article on the date on which an estate must value the assets of the estate for the purpose of determining the federal tax on the estate.

“The alternate valuation rules in Section 2032 can alleviate the hardship that a decedent's estate may experience as a result of a decrease in the value of the gross estate from the date of the decedent's death to the date on which estate tax has to be paid. These rules permit an executor to elect to value the gross estate, as a general matter, six months after the decedent's death provided that both the value of the gross estate and the federal estate tax (and certain generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax) would decline as a result of the election. Perhaps at no other time since the Great Depression, when alternate valuation was originally enacted, has the election been as useful for estates as it is in today's current economic downturn. This article discusses the impact of the Proposed Regulations under 2032 and the Kohler case, among other things. Many considerations must be kept in mind, including the income tax impact of a lower step-up in basis. Other complications that may arise involve the type of assets in the gross estate (such as retirement plan benefits that will be IRD) and the relationship between the marital deduction and a bypass trust.”