Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options

Table of Contents

Estate Appraisal FAQs | Easy to Understand Answers About Estate Appraisals

Texas Warrier

Why do I need a formal appraisal?

You need an appraisal from a qualified appraiser because they provide an unbiased analysis of the value of your property so that you can protect your financial well-being and investments. An appraisal is necessary and responsible for purposes of:

  • Gaining insurance coverage
  • Maintaining accurate insurance coverage value for your property
  • Equitably dividing assets in an estate
  • Equitably dividing assets in a divorce proceeding
  • Evaluating federal estate tax liability in cases of death
  • Evaluating federal gift tax liability
  • Reporting charitable gift donations to the IRS for tax purposes
  • Accounting purposes

Heritage offers appraisals for all of these reasons and more in the form of replacement cost and fair market value appraisals.

What is the difference between an appraisal and an auction estimate?

An appraisal is a formal written report that requires adherence to USPAP guidelines, IRS dictated regulations, and liability agreements. Appraisals have a specific value for a specific purpose at a specific time --- such as a fair market value appraisal for estate tax purposes as of the date of death or a retail replacement value appraisal for insurance purposes as of today's market. Appraisals are a fee-based service due to the amount of research involved to pinpoint a specific value that will often be used by a third party to establish a basis for insurance, tax, or a loan.

Auction estimates are quick and free opinions of the current market value of items. They are the range of value that one would expect to see the item sell for in today's auction market. This valuation is not intended for any purposes of establishing a value for insurance, tax, estate planning, collateral, or third party transactions. Request a free auction estimate here .

What is USPAP?

USPAP is the acronym for the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice issued by The Appraisal Foundation every two years. They are the generally accepted standards for professional appraisal practice in North America for all types of appraisal services, including real estate, personal property, business, and mass appraisal.

How often do I need to update my insurance appraisal?

Check with your insurance company first for their guidelines and recommendations for appraisal updates, but generally, we recommend that insurance appraisals be updated every three to five years to keep informed with the most current market valuations.

How do I prepare for an appraisal?

We are happy to accommodate many different display and storage situations, but to maximize your appraisal time you can: 1) ensure that all items being appraised are easily accessible, 2) create a preliminary inventory of your items, or 3) take preliminary photographs of your collections. These preliminary inventories and photographs may also help us advise you on whether an appraisal is necessary. Before we come to your house, you are not required to clean or repair any items.

Can I sell my appraised items through Heritage?

Yes, many items that have been appraised through our Appraisal Services Department are eligible for auction or private sale. Upon request, Heritage experts will also include an auction proposal of any item within an appraisal. Should you later choose to sell property listed in a Heritage appraisal through auction or private sale, the appraisal fee is rebated against the Seller's Commission in full or prorated based on the value of the property consigned for sale.

What is a grade and how do I get my items graded?

The grade of an item is an official condition assessment executed by a trusted professional organization within a field. Grading is executed for items such as comics, coins, currency, sports memorabilia, and entertainment memorabilia. Though Heritage does not provide this service, please see our resources page for a list of professional grading organizations.

Does an appraisal guarantee authenticity?

Though our specialists are experts in their fields and certainly inspect for authenticity and take authenticity into account during the appraisal process, appraisal reports are not proof of authenticity. Letters or certificates of authenticity can be provided from the recognized authority in each art and collectible field.