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The Importance of an Appraiser to Your Downsize or Estate Settlement Team

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

We’ve all heard stories of the garage sale that served up a $250,000 painting for a dollar. Anytime the downsize or estate settlement process takes place without the involvement of an Appraiser, the risk of losing potentially valuable things forever goes up. The fact is, that the vast majority of people downsizing or managing an estate are told to throw out hundreds of items averaging $50-$100 in value because the team of experts they’ve hired to guide them through the processes don’t include specialists who are qualified in personal property valuation.

Just like you don’t hire a plumber to fix your car or a mechanic to build you a house, unless the professionals you partner with to assist with your downsize or estate settlement projects are appropriately qualified, you could be missing out on unrealized value.

Appraisals are helpful in the contexts of both estate settlement and downsizing scenarios.

Estate Settlement Appraisals

Seeking professional estate appraisals is now more important than ever given the requirements of The New Ontario Estate Administration Tax Regime that came into effect January 1, 2015 under the Estate Administration Tax Act for probate filing. The Act requires that for most estates (except those meeting specific criteria) the Estate Trustee or Executor must file an estate information return with the Ministry of Finance within 90 days of being appointed the Trustee. It must include the valuation of all of the estate’s assets including real and personal property as at the date of death. The Trustee must be able to corroborate the valuations (via appraisals by certified Appraisers). Getting a third party appraisal for probate in Ontario is important to mitigate risk for Executors in carrying out their duties, as penalties for failing to provide accurate valuations can be fines and even imprisonment.

Advice to “wing it” when it comes to providing valuations can come from lawyers who have been in the business a number of years and may simply cling to old habits. No doubt a day of reckoning will come when the government decides to make an example out of someone. Appraisals are easily obtained and well worth the investment of a few hundred to a thousand dollars (depending on volume and types of items being valuated). These types of appraisals are a value added service that Gordon’s includes free in some of our service packages. In addition to mitigating an Executor’s risk, an appraisal can be an excellent tool to help distribute items fairly among family if the will allows for it.

Downsizing Contents Appraisals

There are a wide range of contents in the average home. And while most people have a volume of common household items, unusual items can pop up, some of which have value. When downsizing often 60-70% of the household contents that won’t be kept are sent to charity or the waste bin, dramatically increasing the odds that some higher value items are literally going to waste. This statistic holds even when clients are supported by an experienced real estate professional or move manager, as most of these specialists don’t have qualifications (i.e. GPPA (Graduate Personal Property Appraiser) from the National Auctioneers Association or CPPAG (Canadian Personal Property Appraisers Group)) to appraise goods: i.e. antiques, art, collectibles, or memorabilia.


Gordon’s Downsizing and Estate Services, having evolved from a 60-year old company that specialized in asset valuation and sales means understanding your stuff is in our DNA. Our 80 years of combined experience appraising items has exposed us to a wide variety of the kinds of things our clients have. On the odd occasion when we see something truly unusual, we know who to call to find the specialty resource required to ensure that the item is understood, so that value can be established and realized for our clients.

So when it’s time to put together your team of professional partners i.e. lawyer, real estate agent, move manager to assist you with a downsize or estate settlement project, be sure to include an Appraiser. They certainly help to mitigate risk and ensure that you recapture value that may otherwise be missed. If you are interested in learning more about Gordon’s appraisal services visit our website or contact us with any questions.


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