Death & Taxes

Everyso often, but not that often, someone mentions how property taxes are moving long term families out of gentrified areas. And then I counter with the fact there are oldtimers who aren’t paying that much in property tax, so that can’t be the reason. And to prove it I have about 5 or so properties I know of where the longterm owners pay a very small amount (between $180-$400 a year) in property taxes for houses assessed at over $300K.
I was looking at the site at the property of one such house (to prove the above point) and noticed (or more like remembered) something. The owner of the house, paying at a reduced rate, was sorta dead. This person kinda died a few years ago, but even in death, the owner gets the Real Estate taxes paid. In this case the dead pay less than $300 pa, a fair price for someone who can no longer make a living.
I checked to make sure the deceased was actually dead, and not just a figment of my sketchy memory, piled together by fragments of idle small talk. So I took the name listed as the owner, wandered over to the Social Security Death Master Index (a very useful genealogical resource) and plugged in the name, and came up with one DC deceased match. Also checked the Washington Post obit archives to confirm the date, they want $2.50 or something like that for the whole obit, so I passed.
Now you might be wondering if I might be passing this on to the DC tax office, and the answer is no, not right now. Let me explain why. I have a strong feeling that the deceased failed to leave a will, and there more than likely is no obvious single heir to the estate (no surviving spouse, but several children & siblings). Which then probably means the family might be fighting amongst themselves about who gets what, and if the house is paid for with no mortgage, this fight can drag out for years.
As a homeowner, I do have a will, and in the event I should die before I get around to changing it, the house goes to a dear friend of mine….. I need to change my will, anyone care to recommend a good lawyer?

2 thoughts on “Death & Taxes”

  1. hey, mari.

    i can fully recommend BT Arnett (Teresa). she’s a JD and LL.M that specializes in estate planning.

    she’s helping me out right now with a house in NE dc, and she’s attentive, and if she’s not brilliant, i don’t know what is!

    her office is 240-350-8968, and her email is

    also, her fees are incredibly reasonable.

    tell her hans gave you her name.


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