Knowing the worth of items in your estate is important to keeping the eventual distribution of assets fair. Heirs may also be faced with the combined task of estate inventory and asset valuation. In either case, it is important to speak with your estate planning attorney about obtaining an accurate estimate.
An estate valuation should be made by a certified appraiser. Sometimes, when an estate includes antiques or other unique items, people ask antique dealers to do an appraisal. However, by using an accredited appraiser, you are more likely to get a fair estimate from a professional who meets high ethical standards. Most professional appraisers will charge you by the hour and may have a minimum fee, so it is a good idea to prepare and organize prior to the appraisal.
There are two other ways that appraisers might charge you. Some appraisers might opt to charge a fee per item, which is considered an ethical option for valuations. Other appraisers will charge a percentage-based fee. These are the appraisers you may want to avoid because of the possibility of overestimating the value to get a larger fee.
Once your items are valued, the appraiser should not offer to purchase an item; doing so violates professional ethics.
It is also a good idea to get a written valuation for estate planning and insurance purposes.
If you are planning your estate or administering the estate of a loved one, then an estate planning attorney can help coordinate those efforts and ensure that all of your legal bases are covered.