If you and your spouse have valuable personal property, you will need to have a professional appraise each item for the property division phase of your divorce. According to the American Society of Appraisers, choosing the right appraiser is the factor of highest concern.
Here are some considerations before you hire someone.
Education, training and affiliations
With no national certification or licensure to identify which appraisers have the right credentials, how do you know who to hire? You can search through the ASA and other international professional organizations that provide education, accreditation and standards. People cannot be members of these groups unless they have extensive qualifications.
Appraisal report compliance
Your appraiser probably will use the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice when creating the official report for you. Still, you should ask to make sure because if it is not compliant with these standards, the judge may give it less weight than a conflicting report that is USPAP compliant.
Type of appraiser
The person you hire should have knowledge and experience appraising the type of personal property you have. Specialties may include:
• Jewelry and gems
Appraising valuables is not a one-size-fits-all profession, and it could become even more critical to have a justifiable appraisal if your spouse decides to challenge the dollar amounts in court.
You cannot assume that your appraiser will go to court as an expert witness to verify the value of your personal property. The ASA notes that many appraisers have special training on the court process and how to provide expert testimony. If there is any chance at all that your spouse will dispute your appraiser’s report, you will already be one step ahead by hiring someone with court training.
With the right appraiser, you are much more likely to obtain a truly fair division of property and take one step closer to the completion of your divorce.