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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Getting the right value on a unique piece of property

Last week's post on this blog discussed how Saint Paul, Minnesota, residents may have to place a value on personal property in order to resolve a probate dispute or trust dispute over the value of an estate. Although some personal property, like bank accounts or publically-traded stock, might be pretty easy to value, "personal property" includes a lot of different types of assets, some of which can be very unique.

For example, a rare work of art might not have any established value since there is no common market for it. As a result, a person would either have to sell the art or get a professional art appraiser in order to get some idea of how much it is worth.

As an additional example, many Minnesotans may own a share in a private company like a corporation that includes the family farm or small business. Like a rare work of art, these business interests have no common market with which to compare sale prices. Moreover, valuation can be especially tricky because lot of factors, such as depreciation of business property and transfers of controlling shares, can profoundly affect the value of a person's ownership interest in a small business.

Although getting the right appraiser or business evaluation expert is an important first step, it by no means is the end all and be all for resolving a dispute over an estate's value. Not surprisingly, people engaged in a probate dispute seem to be able to find experts that happen to support their own beliefs on how much something is worth.

Such situations call for experienced Minnesota probate litigation lawyers, like those who practice in our law office. These lawyers know how the valuation process works and can vet out an expert's testimony in order to separate fact from biased speculation. The services of an attorney are just as valuable as those of a good appraiser when it comes to a valuation dispute in an estate contest.

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