Lisa L. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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Do you really own high-value antiques?

If you and your spouse represent one of Kentucky’s high-asset couples, you likely own several antiques and perhaps many of them that your either inherited from family members or bought over the years. While all of them undoubtedly have sentimental value, however, do they have actual value? This is the question you will need to answer when you negotiate your property settlement agreement in the event the two of you divorce.

People tend to think that the older an object becomes, the more valuable it gets. People likewise tend to think that all old objects are antiques. Unfortunately, both beliefs can often be far from the truth. In the world of collecting, old objects fall into the following three main categories:

  1. Antiques: objects made at least 100 years ago
  2. Vintage: objects made between 75-100 years ago
  3. Retro: objects made in the 1950s and 1960s

Also keep in mind, however, that some old objects, even those that have yet to achieve antique status, are just as valuable as, if not more valuable than, some true antiques.

Valuing antiques

Even in terms of your actual antiques, not all of them necessarily retain, let alone increase, their value as they continue to age. As the Huffington Post explains, the value of an antique in today’s market depends on a number of things, including the following:

  • Condition, i.e., how much wear and tear your object has
  • Identification, i.e., whether or not your object carries a signature, manufacturer’s mark, logo or some other way to identify it as to creator and time period
  • Rarity, i.e., how many identical or similar objects still exist today
  • Market strength, i.e., how many people want to buy this type of object today

Professional appraisals

Since sentimental value has no impact whatsoever on an object’s actual value, your best strategy to accurately value your antiques and pseudo-antiques requires you to hire one or more professional appraisers. Look for those who possess certification from a legitimate appraisal organization like the International Society of Appraisers, the American Society of Appraisers or the Appraisers Association of America. While this likely will cost you a higher appraisal fee than that charged by your local auction house or antique store, you stand a much better chance of obtaining an accurate appraisal.

Most importantly of all, remember that no appraiser, regardless of what credentials and/or experience (s)he possesses, knows the value of everything. Old objects fall into too many categories for one person to be an expert in all of them. Consequently, do not attempt to have your old jewelry appraised by someone who is an expert in old furniture or vice versa.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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