Understanding the Valuation of Personal Effects

Tangible Personal Assets: What are they worth? This could spark an intense debate.

Whether you are looking to value tangible personal assets – collections, cars, jewelry, art – for estate planning purposes or for estate administration purposes, it is important to have the valuation completed by qualified persons. Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder; sentimental value can inflate the owner’s value. However, using a qualified party to establish the value will provide you with an unbiased current fair market valuation of your assets. You will want to ask for the valuation to be the current fair market value and not salvage or replacement or reproduction values; you want to know, if you were to sell the item, what the reasonable amount to expect to receive for the sale would be. There are many factors that can impact the valuation of an item – popularity (trends/fads), authenticity, supply and demand, condition, uniqueness – sometimes favorably and sometimes less favorably. If you own items of significant worth, you may wish to consider an endorsement to your homeowner’s insurance to cover the valuable assets.

If you have items of value, don’t rely on word of mouth of the person next door, the amount originally paid for an item, or how much value you place for sentimental reasons as you may be surprised to find out how much an item is really worth. A qualified appraiser is your best bet.

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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