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New Jersey estate planning: Why appraisals are important

There are stories in the news and shows on television that feature people who buy something at an estate sale or thrift shop for a few dollars, only to discover that the item is worth a large sum of money. Situations like this often occur because family members give away or sell items from a relative's estate without being aware of their potential worth. New Jersey residents may avoid this type of situation by having their belongings appraised prior to completing their estate planning.

Many people are unaware of what their belongings might be worth monetarily, particularly for older items. As people acquire items throughout the course of their lives, they may end up leaving a lot behind for their family members to sort through. It is possible that the relatives who take on this task will not understand the value, historically and/or monetarily, of these items.

Leaving behind a large number of belongings may overwhelm loved ones, who may decide to donate, sell or discard the items before finding out what they are worth. Fortunately, there are many services that appraise items belonging to an estate. People who use these services find out the history behind these belongings and get a realistic estimate of their value if they should decide to sell them. This may also help family members determine which items they wish to keep.

Using an appraisal service can help loved ones maximize the value of the estate instead of making the mistake of undervaluing certain items. Individuals in New Jersey who are thinking about the estate planning process may find it beneficial to learn the value of their belongings first. Once this is done, they may wish to seek the advice of a legal representative so they can draft a will that lays out instructions for handling these items.

Source: kwwl.com, "Lessons in estate planning," Kera Mashek, Jan. 20, 2013

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