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Valuable Artwork in Probate


If you have an estate that is going to be probated, most of the assets in that estate have got to be valued. That’s for a number of reasons—taxation, or so that the court knows assets are being handled correctly, or so beneficiaries know what they stand to gain if property needs to be liquidated and sold.

In most cases, there isn’t much dispute over value—sure, we can argue a bit about what a car is worth, but there is a generally accepted range for things like cars, and even houses. Even businesses, which can be very difficult, and very subjective to value, can be valued by the right experts.

Artwork and Difficulty Appraising

But what about artwork? Artwork is difficult to value, because it is so very subjective, and because so many factors go into evaluating the worth or value of artwork.

And, because the value of artwork often depends on things like originality, it takes a very trained eye to determine the worth or value of artwork. Even if artwork is the only one of its kind in the world, how do you “comp” that artwork, if there is none like it anywhere to compare it to?

The IRS Art Advisory Parel

Believe it or not the government actually has a team of trained art appraisers, whose job it is to look at and evaluate artwork. It’s called the IRS art advisory panel, and many on the panel are professionals with careers in art or with backgrounds in museums.

The panel uses what is known as the Uniform Professional Appraisal Standards, which is a generally accepted way of evaluating the worth and value of artwork.

To get a piece of artwork appraised and valued, the state will have to submit to the panel a comprehensive description of the artwork. This can include information about whether the artwork is original or a copy, whether there is anything unique about it whether it was ever displayed anywhere, the artist, whether the artwork is one in a larger set, proofs of authenticity, and the size and condition (as well as, obviously, a picture of the artwork).

Like any piece of property, damage to the artwork will also be considered, as well as the cost that will be needed to fix, repair or maintain the artwork going forward.

If the frame has any real value, or the frame is part of the artwork itself, that will also be appraised along with the artwork.

More or Less Valuable?

It matters what the value of the artwork is, but whether you want it appraised at more or less, depends on who you are. For tax reasons, you may want it valued at a lesser figure, but if you are liquidating it and taking the cash, you may want it appraised at a higher value.

Do you have artwork in probate, or to be left in an estate plan? Call the West Palm Beach estate planning lawyers at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today, for help.




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