There is an Old saying that goes: What is the best way to eat elephant? One bite at a time!
Personal property is the elephant of an estate. It is the responsibility that can take most of your time, and it provides the estate with the least amount of money for the effort involved. But, dealing with the personal property can not be avoided. The property must be inventoried, valued, distributed, or sold. Let us start our analysis by looking at what property we have (inventory); then we will determine what it is worth (valuation). In a future post, we want to determine what to do with it (distribution / sale).
When you go to the courthouse, the clerk wants to provide you with the form you need to fill out the inventory. The form wants to provide general categories and a value for each category you have listed. For example, you would list: furniture, $ 1500; office equipment, $ 300, etc. You will not have the items separately, such as sofa, $ 100; chair, $ 5; typewriter, $ 25. I suggest you do a list of the individual items, though. Although you will not have to go to a lot for the court, you will probably want a more detailed inventory for yourself. You want this for two reasons: to track the sale of estate property, and to protect yourself against claims of heirs and / or creditors.
You have not gotten to fancy with the inventory; pencil and paper will do. If you are so inclined, there are books available at office supply stores, or you can purchase software online. There are also companies that specialize in taking home inventories.
You will need a helper. One person sections and counts while the other writings. Start inside the house, and work your way up from the top to the bottom. Go to room with a consistent pattern so that you do not miss anything: always clockwise or counter-clockwise around the room. Write down what is on the walls as well, not just what's on the floor. For small goods, write down identifiable groups of items such as 200 hardcover books, 100 paperback books, 42 nick-knacks, etc. On your list, put a star next to any item that you think may be valuable. If the nick-knacks are porcelain and the books are first editions, they are valuable items. When you are finished, follow the same procedure for the outbuildings: the garage, shed, workshop, or whatever. If there is a rented self-storage unit, vacation home, recreational vehicle or boat, they want to be inventoried as well.
When you file the inventory at the courthouse, you want to have a value for the personal property. It's Deductible that comes bundled with the Turbo Tax income tax system. It's deductible so it can be purchased separately. The software lists the thrift shop value for most household items, and it is easy to use.
For the items that you have identified as being valuable, It's Deductible will not work. There are several ways to determine the value of single items or collections. A good place to start is eBay ( http://www.ebay.com ). To use eBay to help set your values, you want to have a registered user. Registering for eBay is free; just follow the instructions when you get to the website. Once registered, type in the item you are researching, and eBay wants search for the item. Search Options, click on completed listings, then scroll down further and click on Show Items. The results will be displayed for auctions, not for auctions in progress. The prices listed in green are items that actually sold; the prices in red are for items that did not sell. If you find your item listed, and the price is green, you have a good value. Compare the details of the item you found on eBay with the details of the item you have. Use the closest match as your value.
If you are unable to find your item on eBay, it is time to go to the library or bookstore. There is an assortment of price guides for every sort of antique or collectible. So you want to find blue books for automobiles and equipment.
If you have lots of items and no time to research, then it's time to call in an expert. In your local phone book you will find jewelers, antique dealers, auctioneers, appraisers, and other people. What they are offering you is an opinion of value, not an appraisal. An appraisal is based on actual sales data, not an opinion. I want cover appraisals below; for now, just be aware that there is a difference. For probate valuation purposes, the value placed at the time of the decedents death. This is the value you should ask your expert to provide.
In my home state of Virginia, these are valued at $ 500 must have an appraisal. Personal property appraisers are not licensed like real estate appraisers, but the content of their reports is regulated. For a personal property appraisal 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 Appraisal Practice. Most real estate appraisers do not appraise personal property. The Guild of America, the National Association of Auctioneers, or the American Society of Appraisers.
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Source by Wayne Jordan