Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Big Steal

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The Big Steal

by Emyl Jenkins

The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins
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    Jul 2009, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Estate Appraisal
Jenkins' crackerjack antiques appraiser Sterling Glass unlocks a veritable Pandora's Box when she commences to open doors and snoop around the secret rooms and passageways of Wynderly. She quite literally uncovers ancient family secrets that might be best left unexposed to the harsh light of judgment. The problem is, however, many of the secrets directly affect the cash value of an estate that is on the verge of bankruptcy and whose solvency plays a pivotal role in the lives of several people.

Unfortunately, in an effort to conceal past sins, misdemeanors and maybe even felonies, a proper comprehensive personal property appraisal had never been conducted after the last remaining heir had passed away. The burglary necessitated an appraisal, which in turn necessitated an in-depth investigation into the cash value of the entire estate. Red faces proliferated.

The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) recommends a pre-estate-planning appraisal in order to protect one's own heirs from a similar embarrassment. Although one presumes most antiquities and memorabilia collectors don't engage in illegal activity, mistakes can be made. And then there's the sticky little detail of the pesky tax collector. The ASA suggests following these ten tips while planning one's estate:

  1. Assemble as much background information as possible on each piece of property.
  2. Commission an appraisal consultation with an accredited appraiser.
  3. Insist on a report that gives a fair market value of your collection that complies with the latest Internal Revenue Service requirements.
  4. Review your property and decide what should be included in the appraisal.
  5. Keep the appraisal report in a safe place since it is recognized by courts as reliable testimony to the value of your possessions.
  6. Have your appraisal updated about every five years.
  7. Monitor market conditions because a sudden surge or dip in popularity of a particular period or the death of the artist who painted items in your collection could cause certain values to change.
  8. Ask the appraiser how to appropriately care of your collection to safeguard its worth.
  9. Hire only accredited appraisers like those from the American Society of Appraisers who abide by a code of ethics and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
  10. Reputable professional appraisers will not offer to sell your items for you or base fees on a percentage of an item's worth. Stick with a credentialed professional.
The ASA website includes a lot of solid counsel on everything from learning how to become an appraiser (of personal property, real estate, guns, business valuation and much more) to trying to decide whether to sell that gold jewelry or not.

Article by Donna Chavez

This article is from the August 12, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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