There is an old adage that says: What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Personal property is the l & # 39; elephant from one area. This is the responsibility that can occupy most of your time and it provides the estate with the least possible money for the necessary effort. But, dealing with personal property can not be avoided. The property must be inventoried, evaluated, distributed or sold. Let's start our analysis by looking at what property we have (inventory); then we will determine what this is worth (evaluation). In a future article, we will determine what to do with it (distribution / sale).
When you go to the courthouse, the clerk will provide you with the form that you will have to fill out for the inventory. The form will ask you to provide general categories and a value for each category listed. For example, you would list: furniture, $ 1500; office equipment, $ 300, etc. You will not have to list items separately, like a couch, 100 dollars; chair, $ 5; typewriter, $ 25. However, I suggest you keep a list of individual items. Although you do not have to go into much detail for the court, you will probably want a more detailed inventory for yourself. You will want this for two reasons: follow the sale of real estate and protect yourself against claims from heirs and / or creditors.
You do not need to make yourself really happy with the inventory; a pencil and paper will do the trick. If you wish, home inventory records are available at office supply stores or you can buy software online. There are also companies specializing in home inventories.
You will need an assistant. One person sorts and counts while the other writes. Start inside the house and work your way from the top to the bottom. Go from room to room with a uniform pattern to not miss anything: always clockwise or counterclockwise. Also note what's on the walls, not just what's on the floor. For small goods, write groups of identifiable items such as 200 hardcover books, 100 paperbacks, 42 pseudo-knickknacks, and so on. On your list, put a star next to any item you think is useful. If the trinkets are porcelain and the books are original editions, they are valuables. When you're done, follow the same procedure for the outbuildings: the garage, the hangar, the workshop or whatever. If there is a self storage unit, a holiday home, a recreational vehicle or a rented boat, you will also need to list them.
When you deposit the inventory at the courthouse, you must indicate a value for the movable property. For everyday household items, the software is a good resource for determining the value This is deductible that comes with the Turbo Tax Income Tax Program. This is deductible can also be purchased separately. The software lists the value of thrift stores for most household items, and is easy to use.
For objects that you have identified as valuable, This is deductible will not work. There are several ways to determine the value of unique items or collections. EBay is a good place to start ( http://www.ebay.com ). To use eBay to help you set your values, you must be a registered user. Signing up for eBay is free. Just follow the instructions when you access the website. Once registered, enter the item you are looking for and eBay will search for it. When the search results appear, scroll down and look to the left of the page to enter the search options, click on the completed listings, then scroll down the list and click View Items. The search results displayed will be for completed auctions, not for current auctions. The prices shown in green are the actual items sold; the prices in red correspond to items that did not sell. If your item is listed and its price is green, you get what you pay for. Compare the details of the item you found on eBay with those of the item you have. Use the closest match as a value.
If you can not find your item on eBay, it's time to go to the library or bookstore. You will find an assortment of price guides for each type of antique or collectible. You will also find blue books on automobiles and equipment.
If you have a lot of articles and you do not have the time to research, it's time to call an expert. In your local telephone directory you will find jewelers, antique dealers, auctioneers, appraisers and other professionals who will tell you what the property is worth. What they will offer you is a valuable opinion and not an evaluation. An assessment is based on actual sales data and not on an opinion. I will cover the evaluations below; for the moment, know that there is a difference. For the purposes of probate, the value placed must be the fair market value at the time of death of the deceased. This is the value you should ask your expert.
In my state of Virginia, individual objects or collections valued at more than $ 500 must be evaluated. Personal property valuers are not licensed as property appraisers, but the content of their reports is regulated. In order for a personal property assessment to be valid and accepted for tax purposes, it must be performed by a qualified expert and follow the federal guidelines of the Uniform Standards of Professional Valuation Practice. Most real estate appraisers do not value personal property. You can find a personal property appraiser online by visiting the websites of the American Guild of Chartered Appraisers, the National Association of Auctioneers or the American Society of Appraisers.
Executors will find that the inventory and valuation of real estate assets are their most time-consuming task, but there are resources available to help you.