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Death, Divorce and Downsizing: When Do I Need an Appraisal?

When you hit major life milestones, you need an outside opinion

I know from experience that Americans enjoy appraisals. People like to tell and listen to the stories of family heirlooms, fine art, collectibles and antiques. I know this is the case because, worldwide, I conduct more than 100 public appraisal events annually where I simultaneously teach people about their heirlooms and provide art and antique appraisals. Between these events and in-home appraisal appointments, I review about 20,000 objects each year for clients who want to know what they have and what their stuff is really worth.

While people are enjoying themselves attending appraisal events or watching appraisal shows on TV, many people never realize that at certain times in their lives, they, too, will need an appraisal.

There are three major occasions in everyone’s life when you need an unbiased appraisal, that is the type of appraisal you can only get from an expert who is not interesting in buying or selling your valuables.

Times of change

The three most important times when you need a personal property appraisal are times of change. I call these times the three Ds. The three Ds — death, divorce and downsizing— are the typical periods in your life when you need an appraisal of your stuff, including your furniture, art, jewelry, antiques and collectibles.

You need an appraisal when you have experienced a death in your family prior to liquidating, donating or distributing objects to family members. You need an appraisal if you feel that you may soon experience or are in the midst of a divorce to protect yourself. Although feuding couples will appraise their real estate and their automobiles, both men and women rarely realize that they need a personal property appraisal during a divorce. Community property — like that antique lamp — purchased during a marriage may prove more valuable than you think. Also, you need an appraisal when you are downsizing from a larger house to a smaller one.

When life throws a curve ball, it’s also time for an appraisal. I tell my in-home appraisal clients that when it rains, it pours. When everything is busy, you probably need an appraisal. For instance, many people obtain appraisals to update their insurance policies to protect their personal property with all-risks coverage. Appraisals are a very good idea before a move to protect objects from damage and to get proper insurance for art and antiques, which are not usually covered under regular homeowner’s policies.

You need an appraisal before you enter into the important financial contract known as marriage, too. Many people are getting an appraisal with the pre-nup. Appraisals are a good idea following the birth of a child so new parents can evaluate their financial situation and begin planning for that child’s future.

Also, people obtain appraisals when they are preparing or updating their will. I can’t tell you how many elderly parents tell me that they are interested in obtaining an unbiased appraisal for those family objects that they are handing down to their children. These folks tell me that they don’t want one child to end up with a very valuable item just because the parents didn’t know it was more valuable than the item that was gifted to their other child.

Didn’t think you needed an appraisal? Think again. Times they are a changin’.

Look for great finds in these local stores:

  • , 633 E Main Street
  • 406 W Marshall Street
  • , 1798 Markley Street
  • 147 W Main Street
  • , 139 W Main Street

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