Divorces are never easy. Even when the divorcing couple is able to remain on friendly terms, the anxiety about child custody, fairly dividing family assets and the other issues that may arise will cause much unneeded and unwanted anxiety. Los Angeles couples with large estates face an additional hurdle: fairly valuing their assets with large amounts of money dependent upon the outcome. For such couples, using a professional appraiser may be helpful solution.
What does an appraiser do?
An appraiser’s principal job is to determine the fair market value of the couple’s assets. If the couple can agree to hire a single appraiser, that appraiser can provide evidence to the court about the value of assets on the dates they were acquired and, in the event that an asset has appreciated since its acquisition, the fair market value as of a specified date close to the anticipated date of divorce.
Professional and credentialed appraisers have undergone significant training in the skills of their profession. Different types of property may require different appraisal techniques. For example, a residential property is almost never valued in terms of replacement cost or likely income production. Instead most residential property is valued by use the market value approach. In this technique, the appraiser gathers information about comparable properties that have changed hands in recent months. The appraiser uses the sale price of these comparable properties to determine the value of the house that is being appraised. Appraisers may also establish the fair market value of other assets, such as antiques, works of art, and rare automobiles.
Once having made a determination of fair market value, the appraiser usually presents the appraisal report to the parties and to the court. If the parties have hired their own appraisers, each of them will usually testify at trial as an expert witness.
Choosing an appraiser
In most divorces, the parties will rely on their attorneys to choose an appraiser. The criteria for selecting an appraiser is training, experience, familiarity with the property whose value is being disputed, and experience as an expert witness. An experienced divorce attorney will usually have one or more appraisers that can be retained with great confidence in the quality of their work.