Have You Checked Your Attic Lately?

Antique Roadshow, a popular television show where people discover treasures in their attics and basements and have them appraised, has spawned a copycat craze. People all over the country are now getting items appraised free at walk-in events at a variety of locations.

Watch tower portable phonograph

Phonograph (Photo credit: Counselman Collection)

However, these kinds of appraisals, called “verbal approximations of value,” give only a general sense of what an antique or heirloom is worth, according to an article in Forbes.

While these declarations of approximate value may help you decide whether to keep an item or try to sell it, they are not sufficient to have such items insured, divvied up as part of an estate settlement, or to justify a large tax deduction for a charitable gift.

To support the value of an item for estate settlement and tax deduction purposes, according to the article, you will need a formal, written appraisal, and they certainly are not free.

Most times, when people bring items to legitimate auction houses for formal appraisals, they are disappointed, the article notes. It details a number of instances where people thought they had valuable antiques only to find out later that they were not valuable at all.

Unfortunately, the chances of finding a fortune in your attic are slim.