In 2022, news went out worldwide that the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson, better known as Prince throughout his career, had finally been settled. The six-year-long process saw the division of the $156 million large estate. It served as a perfect example of how big and messy estate settlements can get, often taking years to resolve and attracting much interest from the public.
While these cases might deal with preserving the legacy of those who passed away, the primary role in settling them falls on property and legal experts called upon for their unique skills and knowledge. Real estate appraisers often play a vital role in the proceedings.
With 19 years of work in real estate appraisal, Preston Amherst’s Adam Musiel knows precisely what kind of service his clients expect from him. It’s about timeliness, sure, but people also want accurate appraisals with keen market insights and even the option for court testimony if needed.
Real estate appraisers are called upon whenever someone needs to determine the value of their real estate. They can do it because they want to sell their house, for tax purposes, during a divorce, or estate settlement. The appraiser’s role is to get the most accurate possible value of the property using several techniques, including comparative market analysis, cost method, or the income method. The correct approach will vary from one property to another.
The accuracy aspect of appraisals is critical because both undervaluation and overvaluation can have repercussions. In the case of undervaluation, beneficiaries might end up with less value than they should have. If, on the other hand, the value of the property is unrealistically inflated, the beneficiaries might be burdened with too high estate taxes.
The accuracy of the appraisal plays an equally important role in ensuring the settlement process goes smoothly. It goes a long way to ensuring all parties are content with the outcome of the settlement process — or at least equally discontent. If they’re not, the settlement can be prolonged with additional litigation, costing the beneficiaries time and money.
If it comes to litigation, the appraiser will be called upon as an expert witness to testify about the value of properties. Musiel’s been an expert witness in divorce proceedings and civil suits, and he can attest to the gravity of his role in those situations. He was the expert in those situations, and his opinions could sway the court in one direction or the other.
The value of real estate appraisers in the estate settlement process comes from their ability to understand the market and provide precise value appraisals and the estate settlement law. Granted, the process will include legal professionals, but understanding the legal goings can be incredibly valuable to the appraiser and their clients. In the case of Adam Musiel, it came with experience — appraisers don’t need to be lawyers to know the process.
For all the interest they can drum up, settlements of large estates, especially those of famous people, are more than just a combination of spectacle and numbers. They’re about people, too — those who passed and those who are left behind. Estate settlements are also about legacies, and while Adam Musiel and his colleagues might not be in charge of preserving them, they can play a part in ensuring that estates end up in the hands of those that would.