Our mortality is not infinite. Sadly the circle of life which starts at birth, does end. “In this world,nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Christopher Bullock 1716 (English Actor)
On an estate of a deceased individual, which is a loss to all, please accept my sincerest condolences. May you be spared further sorrow.
An estate can have various assets, real estate, private property, a business, financial or intellectual property. For this article, our focus is on personal property. An Estate which contains Personal Property can include jewelry, collections, fine art, cars, wine, furniture, stamps, coins, household items & Decorative items to name a few. Hopefully, the person had a will which would name the beneficiaries, and explain how the estate would be divided. The Fair Market value of these items is based on the date of death. No estate is ever the same. The conditions vary, depending on if there was a will, the named executors, if there are any liquidators, the benefactors, and other interested parties.
The process of documenting the estate, depends on the wishes of the Executor, and sometimes the Estate Lawyer or Notary. In most cases a manifest of assets, which lists all the assets, and has assigned a valuation that is researched on the date of passing of the individual, is sufficient. This type of list or manifest of values will help the executor in his or her task to make decisions on the distribution or sale of the assets. In some rare cases, an item might have a very high value and a separate appraisal report will have to be done. Potentially, there might be other factors that will affect the overall valuation. The person who is responsible and named as Executor has a duty to the estate to fulfill his or her duties. In most cases the Liquidator’s duties, if not named, might go to the Executor. A Qualified Appraiser is usually called in on the request of the Notary / Lawyer or Executor, to ensure the estate value is properly determined. This is done, where there are questions on the value of the contents, or if there are specific items which examination and attention is required to insure proper value. Hopefully, it will answer the question of knowing what the estate value is for fair distribution among the benefactors.
Having a Qualified Personal Property Appraiser, who is USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) compliant with a current certificate and who is a member of the “International Society of Appraisers” (ISA) Canadian Chapter, is important. The Qualified appraiser will be able to provide a complete report for Fair Market Value, based on the date of death of the deceased. The appraiser will work closely with the Executor, and maybe with the Estate Lawyer.
A real estate appraiser who ideally is USPAP compliant with a current certificate and belongs to the “Canadian National Association of Real Estate Appraisers” or the “Appraisal Institute of Canada” is also important. These two societies specialize in just real estate, and ensure common standards.
Family Contention in an Estate happens when a family or other members who are listed as benefactors disagree on the distribution of assets and their value. Rivalry between siblings, economic disparity among beneficiaries, difference in opinion between co-trustees, undue influence, estrangement or disinheritance, blended families, late marriages or advanced benefits to one heir and not to the others are reasons for family contention. The list can go on. If there is disagreement between the siblings, the lawyer / notary handling the estate might ask for an appraisal report. This is where the impartial qualified appraiser who is not involved in buying or selling any item(s) in their practice is free of any conflict of interest.
Personal Note: I have been involved with all sizes of estates across Canada. I have seen very large estates in the millions of dollars with fine art, classic cars, wine collections, antique / fine furniture, and much more. And the more familiar and family estate, where there are a few items which were unknown to the family to be very valuable. Doing things the right way, seeking out professional help from an accountant and an estate lawyer will potentially save you money & trouble in the long haul. Yes, their services are not free, having the prospect of being hit with additional estate taxes, contention between siblings, which could result in additional legal expenses down the road. I cannot recommend any estate lawyer, accountant, or notary. I have worked with many, and I have found all to be very professional and responsive to their clients. The SD&G and the counties have wonderful professionals that care for their clients, are ethical, and will provide you with the information that you need.
Best possible situation: While it’s always hard to talk about death, knowing the wishes of the person and then recording the wishes in a will with detailed information will prevent any miscommunications, eliminate further grief, time and money.
Disclaimer: This article’s goal is to inform and give basic information. Every Estate case is different. The reader should seek the services of qualified professionals such as lawyers, notaries, accountants for their situation. No advice is given or implied in this article. Due diligence is the responsibility of the person seeking professional help for their situation.
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