If you have an artist’s eye and appreciate items of great worth, then this article is for you. When a person owns artwork, expensive jewelry, collectible antiques, and other prized possessions, they often think they know the value of each piece, or at least an approximate value. But without a proper appraisal, there’s simply no way to know for sure.

Today, we’ll talk about what an appraisal is, how to obtain one, and why it may matter so much during the estate planning process. Forget watching Antique Roadshow, and take notes!

The Appraisal Role in Probate and Estate Administration

When most people consider turning to a professional to look at their grandmother’s diamond ring or an original painting by a known artist, they’re thinking about property loss. What if the item is stolen or lost in a fire? An accurate valuation would be needed to ensure proper insurance on the item.

Perhaps more importantly, in our opinion, is how the appraisal factors into your estate planning process. For anyone drawing up a will and dividing assets among loved ones, it’s critical to know the appraised amount that each item of value is worth. It is the only way to divide these items fairly and according to your own wishes, especially if your instructions are to divide all assets equally.

Furthermore, when an estate passes through a probate court, the items of value will be inventoried and documented as the division of the estate is determined according to your will and/or state law. 

In addition, the IRS will have a say as the estate taxes are calculated. The more information you have ahead of time, the more options you have to reduce the tax burden and ensure your prized possessions end up in the right hands.

Who Can Appraise My Property?

If only it were as simple as calling one central governing body of appraisers. Unfortunately, it is more complicated than that. You’ll have to do your own due diligence in seeking out an appraiser who is skilled in the category of item (art, jewelry, antiques) that you want to have appraised. 

You may want to look for an appraiser who complies with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which was adopted by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation (and accepted by Congress) in 1989. 

We also recommend that you interview more than one professional appraiser and ask questions to help you gauge their experience. Here are a few useful examples:

  • What kind of formal training have you taken?
  • Do you adhere to USPAP standards?
  • How many years of experience do you have in appraising this specific type of item?
  • Do you belong to any professional trade organizations?

Finally, you’ll want to inquire about the appraisal fee. Commonly, appraisers will charge either by the hour or per piece. Either way, you’ll want to obtain that information up front as you weigh your options.

There are a few professional organizations who may be able to assist you in finding an appraiser that meets your needs. You might reach out to the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) at www.appraisers.org/find-an-appraiser or the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) at https://www.isa-appraisers.org/find-an-appraiser

What Questions Will An Appraiser Ask Me?

The first question a prospective appraiser will ask you is one that pertains to your specific purpose in getting the item of value appraised. This matters because the valuation will differ between the replacement value (insurance), the market value (sale, auction, or donation), or the transferrable value (estate). 

Beyond that, you’ll want to gather as much information about the item ahead of time so that you are well prepared to meet with the appraiser. Helpful details include:

  • Place of origin
  • Name of artist or maker
  • Age of the item
  • Medium and materials
  • Provenance of the item (i.e., history of ownership)
  • Visible signatures or branding
  • Visible flaws

What Will I Receive from the Appraiser?

Once all is said and done, you should receive a complete Professional Appraisal Report. This report includes a number of mandatory pieces of information. These include a complete description of the time – its condition, age, size, any maker’s marks or inscriptions, materials used, the provenance of the item, and other relevant details. 

It will likely include a photograph, context of the general market, and supporting documentation for how the appraisal value was determined.

What Should I Do With the Report?

This is an important document. You’ll want to share it with your estate attorney and keep a copy of it wherever you store other legal documents, like your will, health care proxy, and power of attorney.

The value of various items may influence the way you wish them to be distributed to your heirs, so a further conversation with your lawyer may be advisable if you’re considering making those kinds of changes.

You may also wish to connect with your insurance agent to review your policy and confirm that you are properly insured should anything happen to the property you cherish most.

We’re Here to Simplify Life’s Transitions

You have questions about what comes next. The Jeltes team is comprised of experienced and compassionate advocates who are here to help with life’s most challenging family transitions, including divorce, adoption, and losing a loved one. 

Our skilled, efficient, and affordable legal representation can give you peace of mind as you plan for your own future or your family’s. If you have pressing legal concerns, please call us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation. We’ll discuss your goals, review your options, and get you started on the path to a plan of action that works for you.

Ready To Get Started On Your Comprehensive Estate Plan? We’re Here For You

Preparing for the unknown can be difficult, especially if you are doing it alone. Our team of experienced and compassionate advocates is here to help. 

Founded in 2009 and offering more than 20 years of combined experience, the attorneys and staff at The Law Offices of J. Jeltes work together to provide skilled, efficient, and affordable legal representation to individuals and families going through major life transitions. 

Our dedicated team can help you understand what goes into the estate planning process, evaluate your assets, and prepare all necessary documents, including basic wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

We know that every situation is unique, and our attorneys can provide you with a comprehensive one-on-one consultation to discuss your legal concerns and goals. Don’t hesitate to contact us to begin the conversation.