Jewelry left in one’s estate usually requires thoughtful examination by an expert to determine value (or lack thereof) for disposition to heirs, taxation or just plain curiosity from family members. Even if previous documentation is available, it was probably prepared for insurance purposes, not fair market value, as used for estates. For large estates where items have significant value, written appraisals should be provided with the same depth as those prepared for insurance purposes.
But, unlike insurance requirements, more abbreviated documents may also serve the estate, providing essentials for identification and value, photographs and a signed document. We often advise this shortened format since it still provides sufficient information for probate and declaration purposes while saving the client money in the process.
In some cases, where a signed document is not required an informal consultation may suffice, where we examine articles and sort out those of value. The client receives the essential information verbally and may take notes that can be shared with the interested parties. We often recommend this route when there are a high number of costume and lower valued items, not contributing significantly to the estate.
Whenever representing an estate, make sure to state that purpose to the appraiser so articles are properly prepared at fair market value. This represents a hypothetical sale price in the market most appropriate for that article and may vary considerably from a retail value done for insurance replacement purposes. There is no set ratio to arrive at fair market value from retail. It depends on the article, its marketability and condition, with each piece being considered on an individual basis.
As more and more baby boomers are now dealing with the estates of their parents, a much greater proportion of our business is for such purposes. NGL continues to offer consultation for the best course of action in an individual case—whether documenting a multimillion dollar estate or giving descendants an idea of what Mom left in all those shoe boxes.