How to Determine a Car's Fair Market Value for an Estate

If the estate you are settling includes one or more vehicles, it is important to report their fair market value accurately. Fortunately, you have a number of valuable resources at your disposal to help you determine just how much a particular car, truck or SUV is worth. Checking each of these resources is the best way to ensure you neither over-report nor under-report the value of the vehicles included in the estate.

Find the title to the vehicle. Write down the make, model and year of the vehicle.

Ask a mechanic to evaluate the condition of the vehicle, especially if it has not been driven for awhile. The condition is an important factor in determining the fair market value of the car or truck.

Check respected resources like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds (see Resources) for the value of the vehicle. Kelly Blue Book is widely used to determine vehicle values in the insurance industry, and Edmunds guides are very well respected as well.

Go to's Trade-In Marketplace page (see Resources) and enter your zip code where it says "Enter Your Zip Code to Get Started," then click continue. Enter as much of the information requested as possible to get an instant offer on the vehicle.

Shop at local used car lots and look for vehicles of a similar make and model. Keep in mind that the asking price on the dealer lot is probably more than you would get for the vehicle in a private sale. Also keep in mind that differences in mileage and condition will affect the value of your own car relative to the one on the dealer's lot.