2016 : March Notes From An Appraiser

A few days before I was set to leave for NYC for Asia Week, an attorney from Portland, Oregon called. We had spoken briefly a month earlier and had acknowledged we both had flexible schedules and that a third party would be involved. I was asked to do an appraisal, for IRS estate tax reporting.

The law states… the appraiser must include a separate and specific appraisal for each item deemed to be worth over $3,000. Items of lesser value do need to be listed individually, unless they are part of a set or collection or class, such as “bronze buddhas under 3 inches tall”, but such collections or classes should not include any single item valued at over $100; if so, that item must be listed separately. For these less valuable items, their value is given on the basis of what “a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller,” an informal valuation requiring none of the analysis that the items worth over $3k require. Put another way, they are valued on the basis of the appraiser’s experience and expertise. A description and rationale are not required.

The inspection site included steps and due to my mobility limitations from multiple sclerosis, I asked a dealer of Chinese antiques to inspect the property for me. I had sent a contract to the attorney/executor stating the inspection was for items of $3,000 value and above. The attorney, as the executor of the estate, estimated there were 2-6 items of worth at or above $3,000.

The type of value was fair market value (FMV): “the price of exchange between willing buyer and willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.” IRS Publication 561

This was clear to all parties before start time. After an hour into the inspection, I received a phone call from the Chinese antique dealer.

“So, what do you need from me?”
Photos and descriptions of all property with a FMV of $3,000 and above.
“Hmmm, there isn’t anything”
Okay, well $2,000.
“Nothing like that either”
Then $1,000.
“The silver candelabra is the most valuable .”
So nothing Asian has a FMV at or above $1,000?

The rest of the time was photographing groups of material into values of $750, $500, $250 & $100. This took a combined 4.5 hours of time with two people placing numbers next to items, sorting through cupboards, grouping like material, photographing all, and transcribing all the information into notes. As the personal property appraiser of record, I need to write the legal document, The Estate Appraisal, and list with photographs all 100 items.

I must do my due diligence regardless of the value. Whether the material is six figures or three, values must be stated and the work must be done. It was with confidence… valued on the basis of the appraiser’s experience and expertise…I put values from $100 – $750 on the 100 inventory items.