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Walt Disney's Pinocchio
Walt Disney's Pinocchio by Golden Books--don't lie. You will get caught.

As an appraiser, I can only appraise what the client says is there. I do not have x-ray vision and cannot see the Faberge egg hidden in the vault, but the problem is that while my client may have stowed the Faberge egg in the vault to hide it from the ex-spouse, the ex-spouse still knows it exists and it is going to come up during a property division.

Here’s a little tale

Mr and Mrs. X got a divorce. Mr. X has a large and extensive collection of widgets which is quite valuable and needs to be divided equitably. Mr. X claims that he gave Mrs. X a large portion of the widgets. Mrs. X claims that she never received the widgets. Mrs. X hires someone to appraise the all the widgets that Mr. X owns. Mr. X hires his own appraiser to value his remaining widget collection. Both appraisers are deposed, along with Mr. And Mrs. X.

Everyone is lying

During the deposition phase, it comes to light that Mrs. X in fact did receive a large collection of widgets, which are now unaccounted for and not addressed in either appraisal. This is discovered because Mr. X created packing lists of the widgets and has witnesses that helped him pack and deliver the widgets. Meanwhile, Mrs. X went back to marital home a few months before the divorce decree and photographed the remaining widget collection, showing that Mr. X hid the best widgets from his appraiser and attorney. Mrs. X lied about receiving any widgets, and Mr. X lied about what widgets he really had in his possession. Everybody is lying.

Mind you, both parties have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys and appraisers, and now they get spend more because they lied. Why are these lies going to cost them? Because now there are many more unaccounted widgets that have to be appraised. Do both appraisers take a crack at these widgets? Do Mr. And Mrs. X agree to use one appraiser for the extra widgets? How much time do they take consulting with their respective attorneys about these extra widgets that they were both fibbing about? Well, it’s more billable hours for the appraisers and the attorneys, so we are happy.

It costs less to be honest

But there was a way out this mare’s nest: honesty. If Mr. And Mrs. X had agreed to bring in an appraiser at the beginning to examine and value ALL the widgets, before any widgets were packed up and delivered to Mrs. X, and before any widgets were hidden by Mr. X, this could have been settled long ago and for a lot less money.

Why are we lying?

Why did they even lie to begin with? Mr. X really is the widget collector and he doesn't feel that Mrs. X is entitled to half the widgets (or half the value of the widgets) because they are his passion. He went out and found the widgets and lovingly created displays for them. Furthermore, Mr. X has some favorite widgets that he wants to hold onto. Meanwhile, Mrs. X wants her fair share of the marital property (fair enough), but she’s angry and tried to claim some of the Mr. X’s favorite widgets, knowing that they were Mr. X’s prized widgets to get back at him, which made Mr. X angry too. Mr. X lied about the extent of his widget collection and Mrs. X lied about the widgets she had received, and they both lied to their respective appraisers and attorneys.

As hard as it, everyone has to put these feelings aside during a divorce, just be honest in the interest of expediency and cost. Lies cost money and time, and we (the appraisers and attorneys) always find out.

Prized possessions can be protected

But, let’s go back to Mr. X. One of his concerns is that Mrs. X would take his favorite widgets. As an appraiser, I will ask if their are family heirlooms, any items of particular sentimental value, that do have to be valued for the purposes of a property division, but can be off the table, so to speak, in any exchange of goods and chattels. Only the monetary value of these items can be considered in the property division.

There is a way to make a property division less contentious: be honest about all the personal property and hire an appraiser before any goods are removed from the home. This applies to estates too: bring in an appraiser before any relatives go and start taking things. If there is a note on the family silver written by Grand-mother Y indicating that Grand-daughter Y should receive the silver, I can put that in the appraisal while still providing a value.

Just be honest. It will save you lots of money. Honesty is the best policy.

Since 2015, Miss Sophia and Sophia's Estate Sales has been Chicago's premier estate sale and appraisal company. Call us today at 773-729-0638 for a consultation.


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