Jeffrey Pearson, ISA, C.A.G.A.
"Billy" had the chance of a lifetime! He was heir to the throne that left him valuables to do with as he chose. The deceased last wish to "Billy" was to share amongst his brothers and sisters, instead of sharing as what was wished, he chose the other path and left in the middle of the night with all the items What values were at stake when he did this? We see an array of morals and monetary values put to the test in the work we do, and we strive to make all values matter.
In the appraisal world, we encounter many different situations once we accept an assignment. One issue we have seen in recent appraisals has been families being torn by "valuable" items. "Billy" wants this and "Suzy" wants that, but if they disagree they turn their backs on each other and never speak again. The truth of the matter is family should be more valuable than any item on any appraisal list.
Recently, we were on an appraisal assignment where the nieces and nephews were the beneficiaries of the estate. They were torn and battling over which one was going to receive the aunt's vintage brooches. In their mind, the monetary value seemed to be more important than working closely as a family and settling their dispute in a civil manner. After the appraisal was concluded and the research and analysis were gathered, we determined that the brooches in question were valued $7.50 up to $25.00 each. Is this worth tearing apart family bonds?
Certain families have different ways of arriving at a happy medium when it comes to the distribution of an estate, but splitting family bonds over a couple of dollars is not the way we as a society should function. Imagine how much happier life would be if family and friends were the valuables and not what they had left behind.
We also have come across families who are torn between what they consider right and wrong with older relatives who may not be able to take care of themselves. One incident occurred recently where a son wanted nothing more than the best for his dementia-stricken mother. He sat with her and discussed options for assisted living. His mother became so distraught at the son's thought of doing such a thing that the discussion ended, and the son respected the mother's wish and ceased future planning. The mother, however, decided to call her daughter and inform her of the son's plan. The daughter and son have not spoken in 5 years! The daughter decided to save her mother and bought a house closer to where she lived and in doing ransack the mother's house of all valuables, emptying the safe, and taking over her mother's checking account. The courts are now involved.
A business like this is not just going through someone's dresser drawers or counting pennies in a safety deposit box, it is much more. We examine, investigate and carefully determine in an unbiased manner all items on hand. We can unintentionally become peace keepers in a way. We can become a referee in a wrestling match; the only difference is that we hope to have both sides come out winning. The stronger family bonds we create, the better our world can become.
We often experience these situations; however, a majority of the families we work with are loving and supportive of each other during difficult times. So the value of an item is not just in the money it might bring, but the happiness and effect it can have in a person's life.