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Does You Estate Plan Need an Appraiser?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: February 21, 2014

When your estate contains collector’s items, art, or other specialty items, the values of your items may not be apparent to a layperson. When your estate is comprised of items beyond homes or vehicles, and their distribution is not specified in the will, a professional appraiser can help. Appraisers can be helpful in completing a court inventory, for state or federal tax returns, for disposing of the property, or for dispersing the property in a fair manner.

First, you need to decide what kind of appraisal you need. An appraisal for tax purposes is going to produce a different number than an appraisal for sale. Once you contact an appraiser, you can generally do two kinds of appraisals—verbal for formal. Verbal estimates are cheaper, but can only be used for sales to the general public. Formal appraisals are certified, written reports that serve as a record for IRS or insurance purposes.

Make sure you check out the appraiser’s qualifications. Fair market value is a legal term, which means the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, given that both parties know all the facts. This is the form of value required by the IRS.

There are three professional trade organizations, so membership in one of these, or past experience on a museum or university staff could indicate expertise in the field.

With a little bit of forethought, planning and time, you can save a lot of money and transfer more wealth to the beneficiaries you intend.

Over the past 22 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More