DEFINITION of 'Gross Estate'

The total dollar value of all property and assets in which an individual had an interest at the time of his or her death. The gross estate figure is the gross value of a person's estate before liabilities such as debt and taxes are deducted. When a person dies, the executor or executress of the estate performs an assessment of the assets belonging to the deceased including real property, stocks, bonds, other investments and personal property. The gross estate figure is commonly produced for federal income tax purposes, and is the figure from which liabilities will be deducted to determine the net estate value.

BREAKING DOWN 'Gross Estate'

After the executor or executress of the estate determines the gross estate value, liabilities - including outstanding debt, funeral expenses, taxes and administrative costs - are deducted to compute the net estate value. The net estate is the remainder of the estate that will be divided amongst any beneficiaries according to the last will and testament of the deceased. A last will and testament is a legal document that names an executor or executress of the estate and provides specific directions for handling a person's last wishes regarding assets and beneficiaries.

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