Personal Property Inventory & Appraisal

Estate & Downsizing Specialists offers appraisal services for a broad spectrum of personal property including Fine Art, Historical Artifacts & Documents, Antiques, Collectibles, Furniture & Furnishings, Equipment, Vehicles, Native American & Cultural Items, and almost anything else we encounter. For rare or high value items we may secure a second opinion and/or hire an authenticity expert.

Estate Appraisals
The estate process is the implementation of a deceased individual’s final wishes and property settlement. In some estates many of the decisions will have been made prior to death and the process is relatively simple. In estates with less planning, often the result of an unexpected or untimely death, the Personal Representative, Executor or Attorney will be making decisions on financial and personal affairs regarding personal and real property distribution. This may be done through the judicial system with the individuals being court appointed through the probate process. This process is accompanied by a distribution of all assets and personal property to beneficiaries. Property may be distributed to heirs or sold during this time. The estate process also includes a final estate tax return filed by a tax professional to the appropriate taxing agencies.

Included in our estate appraisal services are high quality professional reports with comprehensive photo inventories and values of all personal property in the estate. Estate professionals and individuals alike find these reports invaluable in establishing a clear understanding of a properties contents and value. Our reports help serve as a roadmap, providing a basis for the equitable disbursement to heirs, identification of valuables, and they establish a Fair Market Value of personal property for the final settlement. Appraisal fees are often tax deductible. Check with your tax professional.

Insurance Appraisals
An insurance appraisal is needed when property values exceed normal standards for the insurance industries guidelines on personal property valuation. In the event of a fire, tornado, theft or other disaster, insurance companies use guidelines to evaluate personal property. If you collect fine art, have high value family heirlooms or have special collections, you most likely need an insurance appraisal.

An insurance appraisal is normally based on retail or replacement value. Unlike a FMV appraisal the insurance appraisal should be based on what it would cost you to replace an item in the event of a loss. To do that one has to be prepared to pay retail in a shop or gallery to find a comparable item of comparable value.

We create insurance appraisals that include detailed photos and documentation of your item. This document then becomes a record of proof of condition and ownership. Any items that are of high value should be discussed with your insurance company and will likely require special coverage.

Vehicle & Equipment Appraisals
Estate & Downsizing Specialists appraises all vehicles and equipment. Vehicles and equipment are evaluated based on comparable sales, established “book” values and condition. Condition includes the number of miles or hours of use. Detailed information on these items is included in the report and can often be used in the next step of the process if they need to be sold or liquidated.

Values are based on a Fair Market Value interpretation. Economic conditions and sold equivalents are evaluated for price as well as time to sale. All of these factors help us determine not only value but current marketability.

For more information on our vehicle and equipment sales please see our Online Sales area.

Gift Appraisals
If a gift of personal property is being made by an individual from an estate to a museum, charity or institution, a professional FMV appraisal is necessary for the estate to claim the allowed charitable tax benefits on their final tax return. We have completed this type of appraisal for Art, Antiquities, Books & Reference Material, Movie Memorabilia, Native American Artifacts & much more. Though often related to an Estate, we have completed many gift appraisals for individuals who have decided to make a valuable donation to their Alma Mater, a favorite charity or a museum. This type of appraisal includes the completed charitable donation forms required by the Internal Revenue Service. It is important that these appraisals be completed before the donation is made. Appraisal fees are often tax deductible. Check with your tax professional. See our section on Charitable Donation for more information.

A divorce is an unfortunate life event. Statistically 50% of marriages end up in divorce with rates climbing higher in 2nd and 3rd marriages. The result of this is a large number of individuals in life transitions. In a large percentage of divorces there is a division of marital property. Real and personal property must be evaluated for equitable division.

Our inventory/appraisal report will provide individuals and divorce courts with the valuations necessary to divide property fairly.

Bankruptcy filings have grown in the US as the economy has declined. We provide evaluations and inventories for individuals and bankruptcy professionals. We appraise personal assets, business assets and most types of personal or business property.

In the event that an item falls outside of our capability we work with professional appraisers in specific areas of expertise. By the guidelines of USPAP standards, we will bring outside experts into an appraisal when necessary if we are outside of our realm of expertise.

Fair Market Value
Fair Market Value, or FMV, is a term used throughout IRS documents to determine the method of valuation for real and personal property. Often used as a definition is a statement handed down from the Supreme Court in the Cartwright case from 1973. The statement reads as follows:

FMV Definition: the fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.

We interpret this definition in both training and practical application to closely resemble auction values. Though the definition may be manipulated in some auction environments, in its purest form the auction process provides a relatively accurate price based on a FMV definition.