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?
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.
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.