As gulf residents begin returning to their homes and businesses, they will start looking for ways to be compensated for their financial losses.
The first thing they will want to do is receive the maximum value for their items from the insurance company, and later they will want to get the maximum tax breaks for their losses. The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) offers pointers to maximize financial benefits.
“It can be very helpful when dealing with the insurance company to have an independent appraisal of valuable items'” said Donna Walker, the society’s international president. “Insurance adjusters are not experts in all the types of property that people will need to repair or replace; they may not be able to make an accurate valuation on many types of items. Having an appraiser on your side can help you negotiate with the insurance company for just compensation.”
The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) reminds consumers that it is possible to appraise items after a loss.
To conduct an after-the-fact, or retrospective appraisal, it is necessary to establish that the property did indeed exist and that the owner was in possession of the property. That can be done if the damaged property can be found and examined, or if there is written proof such as a receipt, bill of sale, etc. If ownership can be established, the appraiser will then establish the value of the property on the day before the disaster by researching the market at that time.
Residents affected by Hurricane Katrina may also be able to receive tax breaks from the IRS on their personal property losses in the form of itemized deductions. To qualify, taxpayers must prove that the loss was caused by the hurricane or disaster. Residents must prove that they owned the property and they may need to establish the fair market value for the items being claimed. If residents’ records such as receipts, canceled checks or bills of sale have been destroyed, the IRS notes that an appraiser’s opinion is needed. For case-specific details, consult a tax adviser.
“It is a good idea to get appraisals for lost or destroyed items now,” said Walker. “Even though tax season is months away, it is better to try to establish the value of your items now, for use both with the IRS and with the insurance company.”
ASA cautions residents that to get an appraisal that will stand up to the IRS and insurance company scrutiny, it is important to hire an accredited appraiser who belongs to a professional society. Consumers should ask for a resume from a potential appraiser. Every certified appraiser will readily supply one as well as references from former clients.
To find an accredited appraiser near you, log on to www.appraisers.org or call 1-800-ASA-VALU.
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