When and If You’re an Executor of an Estate


Roseville pottery, still beloved by some (like me) are worth half of the value they had 15 years ago.

February has been a tough month – not only does the cold weather make me a bit miserable, but I’m also feeling sad because two people that I liked and admired have passed away. It’s something each of us will obviously  deal with at some point in our life but loss is compounded by the tasks that must be done if you are also the executor of an estate.

An executor is tasked with settling the affairs of the deceased and deciding what to do with a lifetime of “stuff” left behind can be very difficult. Then there is the issue of sentimentality – each object, regardless of its monetary value, can trigger memories, good and bad. So how does an executor deal with separating those items that have market value from those that have important family connections?


Some silver plated items are still desirable, such as the covered dishes on the right, but most silver plate has suffered in value due to people just not wanting to polish it.

An appraiser, such as myself, can help a person do this. It takes the emotion out of the decision.  Appraisals give the executor peace of mind that they have made all necessary attempts to evaluate the person’s belongings so that the estate can be equitably dispersed.

In an appraisal, the value of an object is based on certain criteria. Some of these include, but are not limited to: Age, Condition, Rarity, the Market (or demand for such an item which is closely tied in to what is in style, or deemed desirable by society) and Provenance.


Fish sets and dessert sets that are in their original box such as this set of 12 continue to be desirable to collectors today.

Prices fluctuate according to these criteria, and, because the market is volatile, the value can change drastically for certain objects. This is why appraisals, even verbal ones, are good generally for a maximum of 2 years.

There are different types of values however the most common value for estate distribution is the Fair Market Value. It represents the range of what  an item might sell for in a retail situation such as a better quality antique show or an antique store. Auction values will almost always be lower.

A seller can expect to get 40-45% of the retail ranges. If there are restrictions such as time, where items must be sold before a house sells, for example, this would take a seller into the category known as “Liquidation Value.” A seller could then expect to get less that the above percentage in order to sell in a timely manner.

It’s not a pleasant task to be an executor but an appraiser can help.


Country cupboards such as this one can continue to hold value as long as they aren’t too large.


5 responses to “When and If You’re an Executor of an Estate

  1. Joanne, I always enjoy your writing, perspectives and photos! Condolences on the loss of people for whom you cared.

    • Thanks very much for your kind words. One of these people was Sid Braaksma. He was a larger than life figure – he and his wife Nellie owned the historic Magrath Mansion and for many years they shared their wonderful home with tens of thousands of people who came to their home for tours put on by the Highlands Historical Society. That will come to an end. So very sad.

  2. Johanne: I read with interest your post. I think you’re imagining that you might have something in common with the person that passed.
    You don’t foresee that the person who passed might have totally foreign interests…books on electronics that weigh a ton, chemistry books and bottles unidentified.

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