The evaluation of inherited art

Receive the correct estimation
of inherited goods one
must rely on an expert evaluator.

As we all know the death of a person does not extinguish their patrimonial rights:

The goods left as an inheritance that is transferred to those who are identified as heirs or legatees.
To receive the correct estimation of inherited goods one must rely on an expert evaluator and, if necessary, ask for a division of the estate.
The whole matter of appraisal is regulated by articles of the civil code between 456 and 768, which define the basic principles of the division of an estate. These provisions were subsequently amended and supplemented by the Family Law Reform Act No. 151/1975.

Those who have left their goods to be inherited often do so in the hopes of not creating divisions among the legatees. However, the reality of the situation shows that often conflicts arise here: consequently the first step is to have an expert appraisal of the goods, and therefore proceed to the division of the inheritance.
Civil mediation between the heirs can be a real help in preserving relationships that often are likely to fail and end up being discussed before a judge or a notary. If there is a valid Final Will and Testament that subdivides the inheritance in succession it is advisable to appoint an expert to initiate a friendly division of the inheritance.


All the deceased’s assets constitute the estate and are given out to the heirs. To claim inheritance rights one must have been born (or even just conceived) before the beginning of the division of the estate.
The estate may include both active assets (including donations) and passive elements, which may be debts, expenses resulting from illness and death (medical and treatment costs, funeral expenses) incurred by the beneficiaries or by third parties, etc. In some cases, for example where there are works of art that have recognized commercial value, the division of the estate requires the execution of an estimate or appraisal of assets bequeathed.


When the value of the property is not easily determined or is not universally accepted by everyone involved, the heirs need to rely on a specialist who will draw up a report, form the share of the estate, quote the value of the inheritance, and prepare the terms for the division of the inheritance. In general this task also requires a careful and accurate mediation between the parties in order to avoid disruption of interpersonal relationships and to have everyone satisfied with the result.
The estimate for the division of an inheritance among spouses, children and other heirs becomes necessary when the estate is without a Will or when there is a need to verify the share of the estate. The division of the inheritance of property and other assets is a task that requires not only technical skills but also mediation between the various heirs.

Specifically, here we take into account inheritances consisting of artistic works such as paintings and sculptures in wood rather than marble or bronze, tapestries and carpets, furniture, ceramics, prints and works of art in general.
The inheritance is often composed of artistic assets for which in most cases it is necessary to draw up an inventory, i.e. a cumulative report of works belonging to the same collection or a group belonging to a single person. The documents of an appraisal can be processed in various ways: the inventory typically contains a brief description of each work with relative photos and commercial value.
The evaluation of a single work of art consists of an elaborate written technical form. The task of the expert is to reconstruct the history of the work in question in order to establish, through a systematic analysis, authenticity.
The appraisal is a professional document: what is written is an ethical and responsible declaration by the expert signatory, which certifies and guarantees the work of art.


For more complete information we have added this section regarding community property and the division of the estate. The period of community property is that in which the goods inherited have not yet been divided into shares, and have not yet been allocated to each individual heir.
As long as the period of community property is maintained, the inherited goods legally belong to all of the heirs respecting the hierarchy of shares. These shares are considered abstract; as every heir does not physically own the specific assets, but rather the abstract representation of the inheritance as a whole. In the case where an heir wants to dispose of his/her own share of the inheritance, the other heirs can exercise their right to purchase the share: this is because they wish to avoid the interference of a foreign party in the distribution of the estate. The period of community property is to cease when the heirs exercise the right of division and accept individual assets as set forth in the draft terms of the division of inheritance. If there is agreement between the parties they shall discuss a contract or estate division, otherwise the division becomes a judicial matter and passes into the hands of the court.
Our agency WAC is available to perform accurate estimates and evaluations of works of art and artistic assets relating to inheritance, as well as to follow the heirs in the delicate process of the division of the estate.