How a Professional Appraisal Helps When Distributing Property in an Estate

Settling an estate isn’t always an easy process. If you’ve inherited items, you might have no idea what they’re worth or what you should do with them. Unfortunately, the process often becomes even more complicated when multiple people share ownership of the property.

The first step to take after inheriting property is to have it appraised. A professional personal property appraisal is an easy and impartial way to determine the real-world value of any inherited items. Understanding their true worth helps you make informed choices about what to do with them.

A Professional Appraisal is Commonly Needed in These Scenarios

Professional appraisals are often used in situations where multiple parties, such as siblings, have joint ownership over a single estate. Typically, this occurs when a parent dies, leaving behind a house and its contents to their adult children.

Aside from inheritance, a professional appraisal is also helpful when dividing up any other type of shared property. Divorcing couples often chose to have their shared property professionally appraised, so they can divide assets equally. Along these same lines, professional appraisals are useful during a business dissolution, if the profits from assets sold must be divided equally among multiple owners.  

What is a Professional Appraisal?

When someone inherits items in an estate, usually one of the first actions taken is an online search. Unfortunately, internet research only gives you a rough estimate of an item’s value. Plus, an online-only evaluation from a non-expert isn’t considered official for legal purposes.

A professional appraisal is different. The appraiser personally inspects your item, so they can properly evaluate its age, condition, and other necessary information. Next, they’ll research the item’s Fair Market Value (FMV). It’s a legal term that refers to the probable price a reasonable seller and buyer would agree on for an item.

Additionally, a professional appraisal follows all standards set by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. USPAP-compliant appraisals are accepted by courts, insurance companies, banks, and more.

What to Do After a Professional Appraisal

A professional appraisal is a document, usually digitally bound, that details each item’s value, dimensions, and other pertinent info. Once you (and all relevant parties) understand what you own, and what it’s worth, you can decide what actions to take next.

Estate Sale

If you’d like to sell the items, consider an estate sale. It’s typically a two or three-day event designed to sell the bulk of the estate as efficiently as possible. For best results, you’ll likely want to partner with a reputable estate sale company. In exchange for a percentage of the profits, the company will organize, promote, and conduct the entire sale.

Many people underestimate how much money an estate sale can bring in. While collectibles, antiques, and similar big-ticket items can fetch high prices, the bulk of the profit is likely made from the sale of smaller, everyday household items.

Turnkey Sale

What if you want to sell not only the contents of the estate but also the house? Consider a turnkey or “as is” sale, which is when the house is sold along with most of the items inside, such as furniture, electronics, appliances, and more.

To list a house “as is,” you’ll need to have its contents professionally appraised. Then, your realtor will combine the appraisal with the value of the house to determine the listing price.

How to Find an Appraisal Company You Can Trust

Unfortunately, in situations where multiple people own the contents of an estate, they don’t always get along or have the same goals. Hiring a neutral, professional appraisal helps limit conflict by ensuring fair, accurate prices. But most people have never hired a professional appraisal company before. What qualities should you look for?

First, you want an experienced company with a proven track record of success. Developing accurate estimates requires an in-depth knowledge of furniture, electronics, automobiles, and much more. Many appraisal companies maintain connections to a national network of experts, so they can quickly consult with them as needed.

Also, make sure the company has a strong local presence, especially if you’re considering an estate sale. A local company will have connections to buyers in the area, which helps ensure large, motivated crowds on sale day.

Finally, choose a company with transparent pricing. While most companies typically charge a percentage fee for estate sales, appraisals are usually either a flat rate or priced per item.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, when multiple parties inherit property in an estate, family relationships can quickly become strained. Ensuring fair distribution starts by accurately assessing the value of each item.

Working with a professional estate appraisal company is the best option for evaluating inherited items. Professional, USPAP appraisals are accepted by courts and insurance companies. Plus, all parties involved can feel confident the appraisal is impartial and accurate.

Inheriting property does pose challenges, but the tips above help make the process smoother while maintaining strong family bonds.