Can I Value Chattels Myself?

Ackroyd Legal
March 22, 2023
When it comes to getting personal possessions valued, it is natural that we may sometimes wonder if determining these values ourselves will simplify the process.

Dealing with the estate of a loved one can be a confusing and complex matter. When it comes to getting personal possessions valued, it is natural that we may sometimes wonder if determining these values ourselves will simplify the process.

Section 160 of the Inheritance Act 1984 states:

“Except as otherwise provided by this Act, the value at any time of any property shall for the purposes of this Act be the price which the property might reasonably be expected to fetch if sold in the open market at that time; but that price shall not be assumed to be reduced on the ground that the whole property is to be placed on the market at one and the same time.”

Ordinary everyday household and personal items like fridges, washing machines, beds, TVs, clothing, and crockery, provided their individual value doesn’t exceed £500, will not need a professional valuation. Determining a realistic open market value will be acceptable.

Nowadays it is possible to obtain online valuations for certain items over £500, such as a family car. However, you should always consider that if the item(s) in question might be considered specialist, antique or vintage, you may not have the skills or access to the appropriate resources to accurately value the item(s). In this case, it is recommended that you employ an expert valuer to obtain an accurate valuation. Items that fall into this category are jewellery, paintings, watches, furniture, antiques, books, porcelain, cameras, etc. 

As personal chattels and jewellery are considered part of the value of the overall estate, it is extremely important that the values are accurate. There are harsh penalties and delays for incorrect valuations. A full detailed inventory of the house will be required and drawing up a list for each room with the help of a friend or family member would probably be the best way to tackle this task. 

Whilst you might think it would be quicker and easier to determine values without consulting a professional, this could end up being completely the opposite. Unfortunately, sometimes this can lead to errors, which can be costly for the estate and any beneficiaries. 

Indeed, access to a complete house contents solution at a time that is often emotionally draining and stressful is certainly something to be recommended. 

Specialist Valuers, like Dawsons, offer a full contents valuation of everything from the family car to the painting by LS Lowry, to the diamond ring that belonged to your great-grandmother! In addition, Dawsons can assist with the sale and international marketing of valuables at auction to a global audience - ensuring the best possible prices are achieved. Whilst they will also arrange a house clearance if required, leaving a property completely empty and ready for sale… Truly providing a complete solution.

Finally, and for peace of mind, it is certainly worth sourcing a professional valuer that is a member of a recognised body like SOFAA (The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers) and/or RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). This will ensure that your appointed valuer has specific professional criteria and guidelines that they must adhere to.

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