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Why Appraisals are Critical to the Estate Planning Process

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As an estate planning professional, it is your charge to anticipate and manage an individual's estate during life and after death. The average estate consists of seven key assets types: cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests, and tangible personal property.  Though often discounted, an estate’s tangible personal property (TPP) can be of significant value, and must be considered in the estate planning process.

To understand how to properly manage an estate's TPP, an estate planning professional needs to know the identity and value of the assets within the estate to equitably divide property between heirs, effectively leverage non-cash charitable contributions, and appropriately liquidate assets for the highest possible return. To do this, a professional will need to collaborate with an appraiser who has passed his qualification under the federally-mandated Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice ("USPAP"). A USPAP-qualified appraiser can provide estate planning professionals with thoroughly researched and well-reasoned opinions of value to help facilitate estate management.  A qualified appraiser can provide reports for such formal purposes as estate planning, probate, equitable distribution, estate tax liability, non-cash charitable contributions, insurance coverage, and other.

While a client or heir may attempt to provide insight into the value of their personal assets, an estate planning professional should not exclusively rely on such opinions of value. This is because clients typically imbue an object with sentimental value, aesthetic bias, and/or a lack of market knowledge. All of which can lead to a gross misrepresentation of value. Sadly, it's not uncommon to see an individual either dispose of a valuable asset for far less than fair market value or structure their financial plans around an inflated and unsubstantiated opinion of value. 

 In hiring a USPAP-qualified appraiser like Arcadia Appraisals to assist in the estate planning process, you’ll ensure that your client will receive expert advice regarding the identity and value of their personal affects. At Arcadia Appraisals, we provide appraisals reports, art advisory, and collection management services for personal and corporate collectors across the southeast. With highly experienced general counsel on staff, Arcadia Appraisals is particularly sensitive to the use of appraisals for legal purposes and we ensure that our reports can withstand IRS audits and judicial scrutiny.