Are goods purchased jointly by spouses for the household (e.g. furniture, art, etc.) considered to be part of the deceased spouse's tangible personal property and part of his gross estate? If so, is the deceased spouse's portion considered to be half for the purpose of estimating the gross estate?
Yes. If property is purchased jointly by spouses the presumption (for spouses, not other joint owners) is that it is owned 1/2 by each spouse for estate tax purposes. This presumption probably can be overridden by proving who paid for it (but this should probably be researched to see if there is a special rule). With all that said if the couple is married (assuming they are both US citizens) there is no estate tax implication. For basis step up this could be important.
Probate issues might differ. Joint property generally passes on death by operation of law to the surviving joint owner. However, unlike some joint assets there is not likely to be document of title confirming joint ownership for all personal property, so the issue is then what does state law indicate.
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