From the blog

Estate Planning Appraisals (May 21, 2013)

By Dale Smrekar, ASEL, C.A.G.A.

What do the following things have in common? A $3,383 Lalique perfume bottle. A $9,750 Paul Sormani Louis XV French Vitrine.  A $1,702 micro beaded deco era purse. A $7,750 pair of Ary Bitter bronze elephant bookends. A $7,500 cranberry Porter Art Glass lamp shade. A $4,250 Japanese woodblock print. None of the owners of these items had any idea these items had great value!  Too often people either inherit items or purchase items they know nothing about just because they like it and never understand those items have significant value because they are not collectors of antiques.

This failure to understand the value of the items you own or to let your family know the value of those items can cause great loss of assets during the liquidation of the estate. If your family or personal representative is not made aware of the value of your special items what usually results is that the children and or personal representative come down from out of state to handle the liquidation of the estate and simply calls a local charity to come haul everything out of the house. Or they have it sold in a yard or estate sale for much less that it’s true value. This can cost the heirs to the estate hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

It is important that when completing your wills, trust documents, durable powers of attorneys, health care surrogate, living wills, etc. to also identify your valuable tangible property or physical assets in the estate planning process to insure a orderly transition of ownership of those items or the cash resulting from their sale when you pass away. The document used to establish that value and identify for your heirs your valuable items is termed an estate planning appraisal. It is a market value appraisal reflecting what the item may sell for in the marketplace, rather than a replacement value appraisal which indicates what the item would cost to replace. An estate planning appraisal can be completed by any certified personal property appraiser and will generally cost $400 or less unless you possess a large collection of items. It should be kept with your estate planning documents and copies should be provided to your heirs to insure they understand the value of your items. An estate planning appraisal can also be a valuable item in the case of theft or elder abuse by caretakers or family as they can document the items that may have been taken and provide the police information for prosecution or return of the items if found.