Do you own an antique, collectible, or other unique item with an unknown value? In many ways, researching rare items has never been easier, with the internet providing access to a wealth of specialized information.
But DIY appraisals often have serious limitations regarding accuracy and legitimacy. In order to determine the true value of an item, especially for a legal or insurance purpose, you’ll need a professional appraisal.
Here’s a closer look at professional antique appraisal services, including their benefits and common situations where they’re needed.
What is a Professional Antique Appraiser?
A professional antique appraiser is an individual who understands how to determine the current, real-world value of an item. Practically any type of household or commercial item can be professionally appraised, including antiques, artwork, jewelry, furniture, collectibles, and more.
Professional antique appraisers typically determine what’s called the fair market value (FMV) of an item. FMV is a legal term that means a price that a knowledgeable buyer and seller would agree to when under no other pressure to make a deal.
Not only do professional appraisers determine an item’s FMV, but they can also uncover its age, history, and other pertinent information.
Reasons for a Professional Appraisal
Professional appraisals are often necessary for these scenarios:
1. Dividing an Estate
Appraisals are useful when creating a will. By understanding the value of each item in your estate, you’ll have an easier time dividing them among your heirs as you see fit. Plus, obtaining a professional appraisal while making your will makes the inheritance process easier, because your heirs don’t have to obtain an appraisal on their own.
A professional appraisal is also useful when multiple people inherit a single estate, such as when a parent leaves their house and its contents to all of their children. An appraisal document provides a solid foundation for either dividing or selling the estate. Plus, having a neutral third party objectively evaluate the estate helps minimize tension between the multiple owners.
2. Divorce or Business Dissolution
Professional appraisals are often required by courts during any type of shared-party dissolution, such as a divorce or business liquidation. Determining the value of every item in an estate helps with equitable property distribution, which is when assets are legally divided between two or more parties.
As with issues related to inheritance, having a neutral appraiser determine the value of the assets helps remove volatile emotions from what can be a contentious process.
3. Insuring the Items
A professional appraisal is often required as part of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Any items which exceed the value of the policy’s scheduling threshold require an independent, professional appraisal. Without an appraisal, you might not receive the proper reimbursement if the item becomes damaged.
Even if an appraisal isn’t required, it’s usually worthwhile. A professional appraisal document helps establish ownership of an item if you file a claim, as photographs alone typically aren’t enough proof for most insurance companies.
4. Tax Compliance
The IRS requires a professional appraisal for almost all charitable donations over $5,000, whether a single item or a group of items. Failure to include an appraisal can result in a denial of your tax deduction, financial penalties, and other potential problems.
The appraisal must be conducted by what the IRS considered a “qualified appraiser,” which is someone who belongs to a widely-recognized appraisal organization and who understands all professional criteria required for an appraisal document.
Benefits of Working with an Antique Appraiser
Even someone with expert “Google-Fu” is no match for a professional antique appraiser. Here’s why a professional appraiser is the best choice:
Understanding of USPAP Guidelines
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice were established by Congress to create appraisal guidelines for a variety of legal and financial situations. A professional appraiser understands USPAP regulations and how to include them with every appraisal.
Membership in Professional Appraisal Organizations
Appraisers stay informed about the latest industry news through membership in professional appraisal organizations, such as the International Society of Appraisers and the National Association of Professional Appraisers.
All USPAP-compliant appraisals require an in-person inspection, so if you need an appraisal for a legal or financial purpose, you’ll need to hire a local company capable of visiting you at your home or other location.
Local appraisal companies have other benefits, too. They’re likely familiar with the types of antiques and collectibles commonly found in your area. Also, many appraisal professionals offer estate sale services, which is useful if you want to sell inherited items or downsize your current living space.
When you need to determine the value of antiques or other collectibles, DIY internet research can point you in the right direction, but it’s no substitute for a professional appraisal. A professionally prepared report is accurate, detailed, and accepted by a wide range of courts, insurance companies, and other organizations.
Whether for estate planning, property dissolution, insurance protection, or tax purposes, choosing a professional antique appraisal service is the best option.