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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Overview of how to value personal property

A recent post on this blog discussed how those involved in probate disputes can accurately place a value on a home or other piece of real estate. However, in addition to the family home or farm, most Minnesota estates that wind up in probate will also contain personal property that will need to be valued accurately, particularly if the estate is the subject of a conflict.

"Personal property," speaking generally, includes most anything that a person, or an estate, owns except for a home or land. Some personal property, like a bank or retirement account, is pretty easy to value. All one has to do is get the account's balance as of the day a person died. Likewise, cash is pretty easy to value simply by counting.

For more difficult items to value, ranging from cars to furniture to shares in a family business, a person may have to put in some extra time and work. One court system provides a series of suggestions that would also apply in Minnesota and that many Saint Paul residents going through an estate dispute may find helpful.

For example, it suggests that items like cars and other vehicles be valued by checking sale prices on websites like Craigslist or consulting a guide like the Kelley Blue Book. One must be sure that he or she is comparing the sale price of a vehicle that is similar to the one in question in terms of mileage and condition.

Although certain personal items and certain common household furnishings can be grouped together and valued under one dollar figure, anything that could have significant standalone value should be examined separately. If it is difficult to identify a value by turning to respected pricing guides or the general market, it might be best to hire a professional appraiser.

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