Gross estate refers to all of the assets used to calculate whether an estate is subject to federal and state estate taxes and how much. In order to calculate estate tax, one must calculate the gross estate which, after subtracting liabilities, produces the net value of the estate used to calculate liability. Gross estate includes essentially all substantially valuable property owned by the person at death, including real estate, cash, stocks, life insurance, jewelry, furniture, and owed debts. Any taxable gifts made by the individual after 1976 will be included in the taxable estate. The fair market value of the property is used when calculating gross estate, often calculated by appraisals. Gross estate often is confused with probate estate, which refers to the property in an estate that must go through probate.
[Last updated in January of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]