Personal Property – The Seeker Newsmagazine Cornwall


Our mortality is not infinite. Unfortunately, the cycle of life that begins at birth ends. “In this world,nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Christopher Bullock 1716 (English actor)

On the estate of a deceased person who is a loss to all, please accept my sincere condolences. May you be spared further suffering.

An estate can include various assets, real estate, private property, a business, financial or intellectual property. In this article we will focus on personal property. A country estate Personal belongings may include jewelry, collections, art, automobiles, wine, furniture, stamps, coins, household items, and decorative items to name a few. Hopefully the person had a will that would name the beneficiaries and explain how the estate would be divided. The market value of these items is based on the date of death. No estate is ever the same. The terms vary depending on whether there was a will, the named executors, whether there are insolvency practitioners, the benefactors and other stakeholders.

The process of documenting the estate depends on the wishes of the executor and sometimes the probate attorney or notary public. In most cases, a list of assets is sufficient, listing all assets and having an assigned valuation researched to the person’s reference date. This type of book of values, or book of values, assists the executor in his or her task of making decisions about the distribution or sale of the estate. In some rare cases an item may be of very high value and a separate appraisal report will need to be made. There may be other factors that affect the overall rating. The person responsible and named as executor has a duty to the estate to perform his or her duties. In most cases, if not named, the liquidator’s duties could pass to the executor. A qualified appraiser will normally be consulted at the request of the notary/solicitor or executor to ensure the estate value is properly determined. This is done when there are questions about the value of the content or when certain items need to be checked and considered to ensure fair value. Hopefully it answers the question of what the estate’s value is for fair distribution among benefactors.

Have a qualified personal property appraiser who is USPAP (Uniform standards of professional assessment practice) has a current certificate and is a member of the “International Society of Appraisers”. (ISA) Canadian Chapter, is important. The qualified appraiser can provide a full market value report based on the date of death of the deceased. The appraiser will work closely with the executor and possibly the probate attorney.

It is also important to have 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”. These two companies specialize exclusively in real estate and ensure common standards.

Family quarrel in an estate Occurs when a family or other members listed as benefactors disagree about the distribution of assets and their value. Rivalry between siblings, economic inequality among beneficiaries, disagreements between co-stewards, undue influence, estrangement or disinheritance, mixed families, late marriages, or advance payments to one heir and not to the others are causes of family disputes. The list goes on. In the event of differences of opinion between the siblings, the lawyer / notary entrusted with the estate can request an appraisal. Here the impartial qualified appraiser, who in his practice is not involved in the purchase or sale of items, is free from conflicts of interest.

Personal note: I have been involved in real estate of all sizes across Canada. I have seen very large multi-million dollar estates with art, vintage cars, wine collections, antique/fine furniture and much more. And the more familiar family property, where there are some items that were not known to the family to be of great value. Doing things the right way and seeking professional help from an accountant and a probate attorney could potentially save you money and hassle in the long run. Yes, their services are not free, with the prospect of being hit by additional inheritance taxes and sibling disputes, which could lead to additional legal costs later. I cannot recommend a lawyer, accountant or notary. I have worked with many and I have found that all are very professional and responsive to their clients. SD&G and the counties have wonderful professionals who care about their customers, act ethically and provide you with the information you need.

Best possible situation: While it’s always difficult to talk about death, knowing what the person’s wishes are and then recording those wishes in a will with detailed information will avoid misunderstandings and save further grief, time and money.

Disclaimer: The aim of this article is to inform and provide basic information. Every estate case is different. The reader should seek the services of qualified professionals such as lawyers, notaries and 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.

Next article: Misplaced Objects or Artifacts


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