NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: Safeguarding Your Home and Valuables Before Disaster Strikes

Wildfires, as we have seen recently in California, are the most destructive force in nature. Nothing can be done to avert the phenomenon of a wall of fire consuming everything in its path. They seem to flare up quickly and spread rapidly in dry and windy conditions.

Wildfire is Coming

In 2016 alone, over 67,000 wildfires were reported across the United States. You can’t outrun a fast-moving firestorm. If you live in a fire-prone area, there are steps you can take to protect your family, home and possessions by at least minimizing some of the risks.

Don’t wait until a wildfire is imminent to prepare. Think ahead because preparation is vitally important. It is recommended that brush and dead branches, undergrowth, leaves and wood piles be cleared a minimum of 30 feet and more around the perimeter of the house. You don’t want to give burning embers additional fuel as they get closer to your home. Make sure you have enough garden hoses.

Store important papers including home inventory, appraisals and insurance policies in a fire-resistant metal box or safe or in another secure location off the property. Assess your possessions and decide which valuables are most important to you. What would you take with you if you had to evacuate? Make certain they are things that can be moved easily and quickly into your car.

Prepare an emergency “go bag” with water, face masks, some type of food and a first-aid kit.  Store it so you have easy access and can grab it on your way out. Have a plan in mind for what to do with your pets.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

If you face possible evacuation but have some time, these steps might help protect your property. Move furniture to the center of the room and take down drapes and curtains. Close all windows and doors to prevent drafts. Shut off gas from the source. Turn on all lights so that firefighters can see your house easily through the smoke.

The article How to Save What’s Priceless When Disaster Strikes onthe website houzz.com advises on what to do immediately following a fire and how to assess damage. The author, Gwendolyn Purdom, particularly stresses before and after documentation. Photograph everything in your home for your records. Afterward take pictures of what has been damaged or destroyed. Disasters are extremely stressful, and photos are a valuable aid for insurance purposes.

Floods and mudslides are often the result of the aftermath of a major fire. Ms. Purdom  discusses fire and flood damage and how and what it is possible to rescue and restore. Check your fire and earthquake insurance policies and make certain they are up-to-date. Flood insurance might also be a consideration.

Earthquakes and wildfires are ever present calamities waiting to happen, particularly in California. Knowing you’ve done all you can do to protect your home and family before a disaster strikes is really all that can be done.

In 2016, records show 19,000 earthquakes, about 52 a day, had occurred all over the United States. Major temblors have struck various areas of the country throughout its history.   

Were you aware California averages 19 earthquakes a day?  The entire state of California is riddled with faults, so earthquakes happen more frequently and are usually of greater magnitude. You may not even be aware one has happened, or you might feel a slight jiggle, tremble or even a short, sharp jolt.   You never know when one will strike. The last major quake in California in 2014 struck Napa and the wine country north of San Francisco, resulting in a half-billion dollars in damages.

The possibility of an earthquake may be buried in the back of one’s mind, but there is always an awareness— sooner or later it’s going to happen. Hopefully, not The Big One.

There are hazards in living near an active fault line. If you construct your home on a steep hillside to take advantage of the view, potential landslides must be taken into consideration. An oceanfront home can easily be destroyed by an earthquake-triggered tsunami.  Poor construction, especially in older structures, can cause a building to collapse into a heap of rubble. These are some of the things you must keep in mind if you live in an area prone to earthquakes.

Landslides, tsunami’s and building collapse may be extreme results of a powerful earthquake. But you can protect your possessions in more moderate shaking by earthquake-proofing the furniture and valuable items in your home.

This is a fairly inexpensive and easily accomplished do-it-yourself project. It simply requires properly securing any object that might fall over and be damaged or broken. This not only protects your valuables, but also you and your family.

There are a number of products on the market for this purpose: furniture anchors and wall straps for securing bookcases, hutches and curio cabinets to the wall, safety straps for heavy objects such as wall-mounted TV’s, framed artworks and sculptures and cabinet safety latches to keep doors from flying open.

Quake Hold, a soft, easily removable and non-damaging putty-like substance, keeps breakables and collectibles securely in place during an earthquake. In use by museums everywhere, it is a valuable tool for minimizing damage due to breakage.

A good hardware store, as well as Lowe’s and Home Depot will have all the necessary supplies needed as well as advice from knowledgeable staff. Everything is also available on Amazon and other internet sites.

The Hartford website is a valuable source of information on earthquake safety. Excellent advice on how to secure everything in your home can be found on doityourself.com.

Natural disasters can strike suddenly. They can’t be predicted. You can only be as prepared as possible in order to ensure the safety of your family, home and valuable possessions.

As a personal property appraiser, I am often asked to assist with claims after the fact.  It is much better to have your valuables documented and appraised before a disaster strikes.

Sources

Wildfire and Earthquake Safety

Build a Kit

Securing Appliances, Furniture and Valuables for Earthquakes

How to Save What’s Priceless When Disaster Strikes

How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Pet Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

ANTIQUE and PERSONAL PROPERTY APPRAISALS

Antiques and Personal Property Appraisals

Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a full time Certified Appraiser of Personal Property.  Designated with the International Society of Appraisers in Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Art.  Twenty years of personal property appraisal experience, since 1999.  Generalist appraiser with a specialty in art glass.   Member of the Desert Estate Planning Council, Decorative Arts Trust, Foundation For Appraisal Education, ArtTable and Art Alliance For Contemporary Glass.

760-205-2582 (Palm Desert); 619-670-4455 (San Diego)

Serving the Palm Desert/ Palm Springs and San Diego, California regions.  Willing to travel for large projects.

Reference: The Collector’s Handbook

The Collector’s Handbook, 10th edition  is written by James Halperin, Gregory Rohan and Mark Predergast in conjunction with Heritage Auctions.  Updated in 2016,  it contains sections on administering, estate planning, evaluating and selling your collection.  There are good references in the appendices as well.  At 181 pages, there is a wealth of information and advice for collectors and their heirs on how to protect their investment.

There are discussions in several chapters about the importance of having your collection appraised for different reasons including insurance, planning, donation, selling, estate tax or division.  It also mentions the importance of using professional and qualified personal property appraisers.

The book is available by free download on the Heritage Auctions website (registration required) or by hard copy for a nominal fee.  I highly recommend taking the time to download and keep a copy of this handy reference book.

Resource:

The Collector’s Handbook,

2016 Revised Edition, Ivy Press, Inc.

 

 

 

Death, Debt, Divorce, Disaster – The 4 D’s

We don’t like to think about it, but there are several situations where our art, antiques and collectibles will be affected in a major way.   Life’s events have a way of separating us from our possessions.

The Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers recently posted a good article on the subject titled “Not Till Death, Debt, Divorce Do We Part” by Julia McLaren.   It discusses the first three D’s and how proper planning and use of professional appraisers can assist during these times.

I would like add a fourth “D” to the list ….. disaster.  Our beloved objects can be damaged or in the worst case scenario, destroyed.  I discussed this subject in an earlier post titled  “Protecting Your Valuables from a Disaster”.

Protection of your collection and planning for the future is essential.  By having an inventory and professional appraisal, you can make informed decisions regarding insurance, donation, division or liquidation.  At the end of every episode of the TV show “Strange Inheritance” they remind us “you can’t take it with you”.

Appraisal Foundation’s Resource Page for Personal Property Appraisers

The Appraisal Foundation sets the guidelines for all appraisers and publishes the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). 

They have added a new page to their website with resources for consumers seeking personal property appraisals.   The following is available:

Resources For Personal Property Appraisers

  • Links to major appraisal societies with searchable databases of personal property appraisers (including the International Society of Appraisers, of which I am a member).
  • Brochure titled “The Personal Property Qualification Criteria”, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Informational brochures describing the process of valuation for different types of property including Gems and Jewelry, Fine and Decorative Art (see below), Machinery and Equipment.

Valuation of Fine and Decorative Art

Users of appraisal services are encouraged to take advantage of these informative resources.

Three Major Appraisal Organizations Unite to Alert the Public to Risks Associated with Engaging Uncredentialed Personal Property Appraisals

Circle of Trust

A Circle of Trust has been established by the three major professional societies for personal property appraisers to jointly promote education to the public regarding the importance of using credentialed appraisers.  They include the International Society of Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of American.  The joint announcement states:

Members of these associations earn their credentials through a stringent admissions, training and testing process, are required to comply with IRS and AQB guidelines, adhere to a code of ethics, and to complete continuing education requirements. These qualifications provide a level of professionalism that is unmatched, and ensure the public that appraisals performed by an accredited appraiser are among the most reliable appraisals available.

All three organizations strongly urge the public to verify the educational and experiential background of an appraiser prior to retaining their services, and to be wary of red flags that indicate an appraiser may not be objective in conducting appraisals. These include charging for appraisals based on the appraised value of an item, or offering to purchase an item the appraiser has appraised. Professional, competent appraisers always conduct appraisals at “arm’s length,” without self-interest.

The full news release and contact information for the three societies can be found at PRSYNC.

 

  

7 Best Practices for Gifting Art to Museums

Appraisals for Charitable Deductions in Southern California

 

Investment News has a good article titled “The Art of Legacy Planning – 7 Best Practices for Gifting Art to Museums”.  In the article they state that high net worth individuals spend an average of 17% of their wealth on art and antiques, a passion investment.   Part of managing this investment is planning for the future of the collection.  One option is to donate to a non-profit organization such as a museum.  To maximize the benefit from a donation these steps are suggested:

1. Create a plan with your client, legal counsel and an independent art adviser that includes the donor’s close family or other heirs as appropriate. Including family and/or heirs in the process can help clarify a donor’s intent, prevent future conflict and actively aid in preserving the donor’s legacy. The plan should include having the artwork professionally appraised by an accredited appraiser with relevant experience in the type of artwork being donated. The appraisal cannot be made earlier than 60 days before the donation. In cases where donors are concerned about whether the IRS may accept a valuation, such as when there are fluctuating markets for similar artwork, an IRS Statement of Value may be obtained for artwork valued at $50,000 or more to provide the donor with certainty.

2. Try to place artwork in museums that have missions and continuing collection interests that strongly align with your clients’ intent and contents of their collection. Clients often will know of strong prospects. But clients focused and passionate about their collection may not recognize how their collection will best fit with a museum’s broader collection, its goals and its limitations in space and other resources.

3. Consider art museum policies and practices for donors and “deaccessioning” (removing items from museum holdings, usually to sell them). Mr. Welch pointed out that “many museums want to retain the ability to improve their collections through the acquisition of better examples. In such a case, a gifted artwork might be deaccessioned and the proceeds used to acquire a superior work. When that happens, the donor’s name of the original gift typically appears in the newly acquired work’s credit line.”

4. Consider museums that are members of monitoring or regulating associations. For example, the Association of Art Museum Directors requires a written policy for “deaccession principles, procedures and processes”. They also require that “funds received from the disposal of a deaccessioned work shall not be used for operations or capital expenses. Such funds, including any earnings and appreciation thereon, may be used only for the acquisition of works in a manner consistent with the museum’s policy on the use of restricted acquisition funds. In order to account properly for their use, AAMD recommends that such funds, including any earnings and appreciation, be tracked separate from other acquisition funds.”

5. Check the health of organizational finances by looking at Form 990 tax filings and/or charity rating agencies like Charity Navigator. One quick test is to look at total assets and total liabilities. Stable charities — like stable businesses — generally have assets exceeding liabilities.

6. Consider supporting museum operating costs as part of a donor’s commitment to their gift of artwork. Financially supporting the museum is another way of helping to preserve a donor’s legacy and a logical step in a client’s charitable, financial and tax planning.

7. As you draft an agreement for the gift, consider including a “statement of intent” that clearly and personally outlines the desires and expectations of the donor for their donation. Sharing this statement with family (and/or other heirs) and the beneficiary museum can help clarify intent, expectations and address any concerns of heirs or the museum. A statement of intent can also clarify donor intent for future generations and may help prevent legal challenges. Donors who bequeath their art collections to museums share an intimate part of their lives. Advisers can help provide guidance that will preserve and protect their client’s wishes, smooth the process and help establish their client’s legacy for the benefit of future generations.

Source: Investment News The first item on the list includes having your artwork professionally appraised by an accredited appraiser.  Credentials for qualified personal property appraisers are earned with their professional appraisal societies.

About the Author: Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a certified appraiser of personal property designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.

Untying the Knot

You may have seen the fairly new television series on Bravo titled “Untying the Knot”.  It features a prominent divorce mediator helping couples split up their joint assets.

As part of the process, appraisers are brought in to value the personal property.  The level of value may vary slightly by state, however in California the appropriate level is “Fair Market Value”.  For television purposes, the appraisers are verbally reporting the values.  In real life, a written appraisal report must be provided.  It is important to choose an impartial and credentialed appraiser who may be called to testify at formal mediation or court.

In most cases, property owned prior to the marriage is separate and retained by the individual.  Individuals with large collections or family heirlooms may want to consider having their items documented and appraised as part of their pre-nuptial planning.

As an appraiser, I cannot give legal advice.  Please consult a professional attorney.

Resources:

What Should I Know about Divorce and Custody?” from the State Bar of California

Divorce or Separation from the Judicial Branch of California Courts

 

About the Author:

Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a certified appraiser of personal property designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers.  She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.

 

HOW OLD IS AN ANTIQUE?

As an appraiser, I receive calls daily from potential clients saying they have an antique to be evaluated.   If the caller is in their twenties, they may be speaking about something only 30 years old.   On the other hand, if I ask a room full of senior citizens how many of them think they are antiques, the majority of people in the room raise their hands.  It’s a matter of perception.

Although we may see varying descriptions, there is a U.S. government definition for an antique.  Guidelines were originally established by the U.S. Customs Service for import tariffs.   In the Tariff Act of 1930 an antique was defined as an object made before 1830, after which mass production became common.  In 1993, Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), also known as the Customs Modernization or “Mod” Act, became effective.  These provisions amended many sections of the Tariff Act of 1930 and related laws.  Thus, there is a rule of 100 years old to describe something as “antique”.   

RESOURCES:

“Shopping For Antiques” from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces, Antiques, and Other Cultural Property” from U.S. Customs and Border  Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a full time personal property appraiser designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.

How to Ship Antiques Safely

antiquedresserA dresser owned by a queen. A teapot once used by your great, great grandmother. When we ship antiques, we’re not just moving around things; we’re shipping history from here to there.

We care that antiques remain preserved. We want them to continue to convey the past in a way that enriches the present. A broken object seldom does that in the same way. As such, every antiques shipment is all about the extra steps. What follows are some tips to help ensure that your objects and their histories arrive intact.

Ahead of Time: Preparing to Ship Antiques 

While packing and shipping a Christmas present or care package yourself is fine, doing the same for an antique or priceless family heirloom is not. This job is best left to the professionals. A knowledgeable antiques shipping company can assess the needs of your item and properly handle it from start to finish.

After taking the first step to hire a reputable packing and shipping company, you should take a look at the different insurance policies the company offers. It’s the claim you never want to file, but part of shipping antiques is also about insuring. You want a solid and well-documented appraisal of the objects before they go. Some companies even offer specialized staff to simplify this process. This tends to mean that your shipper has lots of experience with antique-specific tasks.

 Shipping: Containers and Packing for Antiques

There are some steps that you want to see your shipper make when packing up your piece. The following shortlist can help you identify best practices.

Prepping the Object: Packing antiques is often about securing fragile and moving parts. If your shipper can safely remove any doors, handles, glass panels or other delicate parts, they should. Each item should then be packed separately and clearly labeled.

Shell Materials: Depending on what you are shipping, double wall cardboard boxes may be the best material of choice. Your shipper should insulate your antique with bubble wrap and foamcore pieces within one container and then place that shell within a second layer of cushion and a second box. Other kinds of objects will do better in plastic hard-shell structures, or they’ll require a custom-built wooden crate. Be certain that the shipper you choose can provide these important custom packaging options.

Adhesives: Securing components against independent motion? Antiques shipping experts say “no” when it comes to adhesive tape. The company should use string and ropes instead. Better yet, hold down parts that could be damaged with shrink wrap.

Finally, before your packed antiques go out the door, double check that every crate and box is accurately and very legibly labeled. Be sure that your packing carries the proper precautions: Fragile. Do not load or stack. This side up.

With these steps complete, your antiques are in good shape to arrive intact, and the process will become just another part of their ongoing story – a new chapter with many more to come.

antique stove
-James O’Brien’s work can be found at Mashable, OPEN Forum, Forbes.com, TheAtlantic.com, and elsewhere. He writes about media, finance, business, travel, and tech.

 This article was prepared for Antique and Personal Property Appraisals on behalf of Craters and Freighters.