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Dispute Resolution: When Value is the Question

Posted Jan 21, 2014
Written by Fran Zeman
Category General

The outcome of critical lifetime events such as separation of business assets, divorce, and distribution of family assets can have a significant financial impact on involved parties. These events are often emotionally charged.  When it comes to tangible assets (personal property), divergent opinions will frequently exist: one party believes the properties have high value and the other party is at opposites with this opinion.  In the absence of being able to effectively negotiate and settle disputes over personal property by a “meeting of the minds”, the only way to satisfy the answer to “How much are these assets worth?” is through the appraisal process.

Begin the process by selecting an accredited, qualified and experienced appraiser who will be acceptable as a “neutral” to the involved parties.  Parties may collect information themselves, or ask their attorney or other involved professional to do so. Appraiser credentials are reviewed for competency and checked for possible conflict by other professionals involved in the matter; it is then agreed by all parties to base dispute resolution on objective and independent valuation findings specific to intended use. 

Disputes over money matters can have a devastating effects if not resolved; the sooner the better. While attorneys advocate for their clients, or sometimes will advocate in the interest of ending a matter quickly, they may not have an understanding of the tangible assets to be divided. This can handicap a settlement and have potentially harmful financial results.  Any parties involved in an event where there is dissolution of tangible personal property would do well to consider the many benefits associated with an independently prepared appraisal completed without market-related bias that will answer the question of value and facilitate dispute resolution.  This means that the appraisal cannot be completed by a party involved in the acquisition or the sale of the properties being appraised (dealer or auction house); this is a conflict of interest and constitutes bias.

The results of a sound compromise in any dissolution is that each party is satisfied that they have received an equitable settlement that worked out as best as possible for them based on the given circumstances. An appraisal will answer the value questions and contribute to the ability to move-on to the next phase of your business and/or personal life.