From time to time investors accumulate “unrealized losses” in an investment. These are losses that an investor could incur if they sold the investment. And by doing so, they may be able to claim the loss on their tax return up to annual limits allowed by the IRS.
This is the big issue most people hear little about. If the investor dies before realizing the loss, those losses will go away and cannot be claimed on the tax return. The losses therefore could be lost forever.
Let’s look at why this may be important. For an example, let’s say Mr. Jones is 85 years old and some time ago he bought an investment from his broker that today is valued at $20,000 less than his original investment, or cost basis. If he sold the investment today he could realize the loss of $20,000. Mr. Jones can use that loss by offsetting future taxable investment gains, plus up to an additional $3,000 per year of loss deductions.
While a somewhat complicated subject to discuss, be sure to talk this over with your investment advisor and/or tax professional. If it makes sense to continue to hold the investment, your investment advisor should be able to explain how you can repurchase the investment after 31 days to avoid “wash sale rules”. Don’t leave deductible losses on the table if your situation warrants taking advantage of some otherwise commonly overlooked tax benefits.