When a client passes away, most likely you’ll be asked for the valuation of the estate on the date of death.  Can you retrieve this information from PortfolioCenter?

Yes and no.  PortfolioCenter can tell you the number of shares of every position held on the date of death, but for estate valuation you need the high and low stock price on the date of death.  However, determining the date of death value is achievable with PortfolioCenter, the internet and some spreadsheet savvy.  Here are the steps.

  1. In PortfolioCenter, run a holdings report on the date of death that includes the symbol and quantity.  Save the report as a .CSV.
  2. Open the saved CSV file in a spreadsheet and sort/format it so you have a list of the symbols and quantities.
  3. Find a website that provides historical stock information (e.g. Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch.com or NASDAQ.com.  I usually use Yahoo! Finance.)
  4. Using their tools, find the high and low price for each position on the date of death.  If the date of death falls on a weekend, you’ll need to obtain the high and low prices for both the preceding Friday and following Monday.
  5. Record these high and low prices in your spreadsheet.  Some sites allow you to export the data.  For others, you may be able to cut and paste.
  6. Once you have all the prices in your spreadsheet, calculate the mean value for each position: add the low and high values for the stock and divide by two. If the date of death fell on a weekend, perform this step for the Friday before and Monday after, then add the results from each date and divide by two.
  7. In your spreadsheet, use this per-share mean-stock value to compute the value of the estate on the date of death.
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Photo by Chris Alcoran used here under Flickr Creative Commons.