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How will your antiques impact your high-asset divorce?

If you and your spouse are like most high-asset Florida couples, you likely own some antiques. Or at least you own some old things that you believe to be antiques. And you likely believe that these things have increased in value the older they have become.

Before starting to assign values to these items for purposes of your property settlement agreement, however, you would do well to get them appraised by a professional antique appraiser. Why? Because you may discover that some things you thought were antiques really are not. In addition, you may also discover that even your true antiques are not worth what you thought they were.

What is an antique?

It may surprise you to learn that just because an object is “old” does not make it an antique. In fact, the collectible world assigns the following three words to various old objects, depending on exactly when they were created or produced:

  1. Retro – something created, produced or manufactured during the 1950s and 1960s
  2. Vintage – something created, produced or manufactured between 75 and 100 years ago
  3. Antique – something created, produced or manufactured at least 100 years ago

How much is an antique worth?

Even if you own true antiques, not all of them are created equal when it comes to their value. While some really are worth thousands of dollars, others are worth little or nothing. So what makes the difference? A number of factors, including the following:

  • The object’s condition, i.e., how much wear or damage it has
  • The object’s identity, i.e., whether or not it carries the creator’s or manufacturer’s signature, logo or other identifying mark
  • The object’s rarity, i.e., how many like or similar objects still exist today and how readily available they are
  • The market for objects of this type

Who should you get as an appraiser?

Unfortunately, not all appraisers are created equal either. While your local auctioneer or antique shop owner may be able to competently assign a value to your antiques, in all likelihood (s)he cannot. Why? Two reasons. First, no one, regardless of how much expertise and experience (s)he has, knows everything about everything. Therefore, someone who has experience in old jewelry likely has little or no experience in old furniture.

Second, just because someone sells “antiques” for a living does not mean that (s)he knows the true value of what (s)he’s selling. That is why knowledgeable buyers often make “killings” when they discover something in an antique shop or flea market priced well below what they know it to be worth.

Your best bet is to hire a professional appraiser certified by the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America.

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