In The Need for Appraisals, appraisal expert witness Joel Forman of JLF Appraisal Services writes:
Starting in January 2011, the first wave of baby boomers will start retiring. For the next eighteen years, children born between 1946 and 1964 will be joining their older siblings and cousins to enjoy the golden years. Many individuals accumulated substantial estates. Some have impressive values. With both federal and state governments having dire cash flow problems, the need to have one’s affairs in order is more important than ever. JLF Appraisal Services is constantly amazed how many people don’t have wills, trusts or a DNR. When the courts are faced with an estate where the property owner died intestate, judges have been known to make arbitrary decisions that often go against the spoken wishes of the deceased. In addition, often there are constant family fights over the estate. This is especially true among the siblings, each person claiming the first right of refusal for all property.
As accredited appraisers, JLF Appraisal Services sees many estates that are ill-prepared for an orderly resolution. Most heirs have no idea what the estate properties are worth. More often than not, emotions overrule intellect. We highly that recommend individuals who are retired, or near retirement, work with their lawyers and tax consultants to ensure their wishes are followed. This is especially true when the will/trust specifies equitable distribution among the heirs, certain property donated to charity, and to trust funds for the future education of grandchildren and great grandchildren. The best way to get started, to ensure your wishes are followed, is to contact your attorney and financial advisor.