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Appraisals FAQs

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a thoroughly-researched and well-supported opinion of value by an impartial qualified professional. This opinion can be expressed as a specific dollar amount, a range of values, or in relation to its previous market value. The appraisal includes a detailed description itemizing the factual elements of the piece being appraised and an opinion of the monetary value of the piece. Appraisals are typically good for ten years, however different appraisal users may need them to be updated more or less frequently based on their purpose and the market conditions for particular artists.


Appraisals are based on extensive market research. Our research includes consulting auction records, private sales records, similar artworks currently for-sale, and more, to find comparable pieces to the piece being appraised. The piece's provenance, history of ownership, and exhibitions, may also contribute to the value of the piece. Different research is emphasized for different types of appraisals. 

An appraisal is not intended to authenticate artwork, nor is it an oral estimation of value because it entails a professionally researched and written report. If you are looking for a general idea of the value of a piece, which some art dealers or galleries do provide, we encourage you to contact them directly, however, they are not to be considered appraisals.

Why you need an appraisal?

Appraisals can be performed for various purposes depending on what your plans are for the piece(s). 

Most appraisals fall into the following categories:


  • Insurance

  • Claim

  • Donation

  • Estate Planning

  • Probate

  • Open Market

  • Division of Property


Most people rely on their homeowner’s insurance for protection against losses, and most of your possessions are protected by your home insurance policy’s Personal Property Coverage. If, say, your television is damaged in a fire, your home insurance will cover it and you do not need an appraisal for the television in order to pay your claim; it’s pretty easy to find out what a television costs (especially if you still have the receipt). On the other hand, an original 100-year-old painting is a lot harder to price, and many are unaware that their policy usually excludes antiques, jewelry, collectable, furs, fine art, etc. 

Personal property like antiques, jewelry, collectable, furs, fine art, etc. are often subject to special sub-limits on home insurance policies. As an example the policy might have a coverage limit of $1,000 for jewelry, even if the overall limit for Personal Property is $100,000. That is a problem if you’ve got jewelry worth more than $1,000.

When you have a valuable piece of property that exceeds your insurance policy’s sub-limits, you can ask your insurer to schedule that property. Scheduling property just means adding an endorsement to your main policy that covers the special item. When you schedule something, the insurance company will often ask to have the item appraised before they cover it.

To ensure complete Replacement Cost Coverage, you should have your personal property appraised by a qualified appraiser.


Our specialized personal property insurance appraisals can assist you with establishing value for the purpose of Insurance Replacement in situations where you have experienced a loss due moving damage, theft, damage or destruction from: fire, smoke, flood, etc.


When you make a claim, your insurance adjuster will examine the details to come up with the amount that the insurer will pay. Sometimes, people disagree with their adjuster’s valuation. If the insured and the insurer can’t agree, appraisal is one possible solution.

Most insurance policies include an appraisal clause. This lays out the rules for how the dispute resolution process happens. Normally, it involves each side hiring their own appraiser to negotiate the value of the claimed property.


Donors and qualified charities may require an appraisal to establish the fair market value, for non-cash gifts, required by Revenue Canada. Determining fair market value (FMV), is a complex process and numerous factors regarding the property must be considered. Fair market value is normally the highest price, expressed in dollars, that property would bring in an open and unrestricted market, between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are both knowledgeable, informed, and prudent, and who are acting independently of each other.


Registered charities issuing an official receipt for a non-cash gift must reflect the FMV. In general, if the fair market value of the property is less than $1,000, a member of the registered charity, or another individual, with sufficient knowledge of the property may determine its value.

The person who determines the fair market value of the item should be competent and qualified to evaluate the particular property being donated.


hen the fair market value is expected to be more than $1,000, Canada Revenue strongly recommends you have the property appraised by a qualified professional who is not associated with either the donor or the charity.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of organizing and managing an individual’s assets, including their personal property, in order to ensure the property is distributed according to their wishes upon their death. Personal property appraisals play a crucial role in estate planning. Personal property appraisals are used to determine the value of an individual’s personal property, such as antiques, jewelry, collectable, furs, fine art, etc. for the purpose of estate planning.

Personal property appraisals provide an accurate estimate of the value of the assets, which is used to determine the appropriate distribution among the beneficiaries.

For anyone drawing up a will and dividing assets, it’s critical to know an accurate estimate of the value of the assets. It is the only way to divide personal property fairly and according to your own wishes, especially if your instructions are to divide all assets equally. 


When an estate passes through a probate court, the items of value will be inventoried and documented as the division of the estate is determined according to your will and/or provincial law.

Many clients are unaware that the personal property of an estate must be inventoried and valued during the probate process. This requires the services of an appraisal conducted by a qualified appraiser who must provide a value of the estate’s contents.

We are experienced in providing legal appraisals for the purposes of estate settlement and probate and can assist you or your personal representative in their obligations.


Open Market

Also known as Fair Market Value, is the highest price, expressed in terms of money, that a property would bring, in an open and unrestricted market, between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are both knowledgeable, informed, and prudent, and who are acting independently of each other. Essentially, this is what you might expect to sell the piece for. However, this does not guarantee that the piece will sell for that much in any given period of time, nor that the piece will be saleable at all.


Determinations of fair market value are based on market evidence and intended to reflect market conditions at the time the property is sold. 

Division of Property

Preparing and managing a civil divorce can be a complicated and difficult procedure. Laws differ from province to province, but family property is usually divided equally between the spouses or adult interdependent partners. Proper distribution of family property requires a careful description and valuation of antiques, jewelry, collectable, furs, fine art, and other household items.


A personal property appraisal for divorce purposes requires a well-supported, authoritative appraisal document that can be supported during a trial. We can help by providing a careful inventory and accurate appraisal of your commonly held personal property. Your lawyer will receive a thorough and objective report that meets the guidelines of the Family Property Act. 

Contact our office to discuss your appraisal needs!

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