Equipment Appraisal Blog | Understanding Machinery Appraisals

Appraisers as Expert Witnesses-Remote Testimony is the New Normal

Posted by Equipment Appraisal Services on Mon, Oct 30, 2023 @ 07:30 AM

Expert Witness Testimony of Machinery and Equipment Appraisers

Many experienced and credentialed appraisers augment their services as expert witnesses in litigation matters such as prolonged business disputes and personal divorce cases. Working with clients and their attorneys leading up to a possible trial is common practice for valuation firms; however, these cases are often settled before testimony is required.

If the litigation does reach trial or arbitration, there is the likelihood that testimony will occur either during the trial or before, in a deposition format. As an expert witness, before the pandemic, it was generally a requirement to attend these hearings in person, which involved additional time and costs for travel and sitting in court waiting to testify.

Over the last 2+ years, there has been an abundance of “catch-up” work by the courts and attorneys given the delays in advancing cases during the pandemic. As a result, a high number of valuation assignments associated with these cases have moved to deposition or trial, creating an increased level of requests for expert witness testimony.

Fortunately, the opportunity to testify remotely online has allowed appraisers to avoid spending inordinate amounts of time traveling around the country to attend these in person and then having to sit idly waiting for their turn to appear as a witness.

One of the few silver linings associated with the pandemic was the widespread acceptance of a remote work model, which includes a significant amount of communication handled through an online format, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This has now become commonplace for expert witness testimony and, as a result, has allowed appraisers to provide this service more affordably to their clients.

Based on my own recent experience, this process has by and large been successful, and the likelihood of creating a more permanent change to include remote testimony options at trial and deposition will continue to develop in the long term.

Like many other industries, technological advances over the last 15-20 years have played a significant role in creating efficiencies for appraisers to manage their workload and grow their businesses to new levels without spending a lot of additional time and expense to accomplish this. The opportunity created by remote expert witness testimony is one of these critical areas of advancement, and appraisers should take advantage of this as much as possible.

Tags: Litigation, accredited appraisers, Equipment Appraisal Services

Intended Users and Specific Purposes For Valuation Assignments

Posted by Equipment Appraisal Services on Mon, Mar 21, 2022 @ 07:00 AM

Machinery Equipment Appraisal Report Used in Future Litigation

Accredited and certified appraisers are responsible for certain hours of continuing education to maintain their credentials. As part of this perpetual training and learning experience, there are numerous requirements we adhere to that pertain to each valuation assignment and scope of work effort. Two of these important prerequisites dictate that every report must have a specific use or uses, as well as defined intended users. If the client uses the report for another reason or discloses it to parties unnamed, this is a violation of the engagement terms.

Here is a great example of why this is important to an appraisal assignment.

Potential Future Business Disputes and Litigation Unrelated to the Prior Valuation

Let me preface this by saying there are many instances where an experienced appraiser will be engaged to value businesses, machinery & equipment, personal or real property, as an independent expert, in support of an existing dispute or ongoing litigation. This is one of the primary reasons to engage with an appraiser, to facilitate a settlement, or in support of a trial or arbitration.

There are times when, months or even years later, the client who originally engaged the appraiser for a completely different purpose, such as a sale, purchase, or refinancing, is involved with a future dispute that leads to litigation. Somehow, the old appraisal gets drawn into the case, likely, because the value of certain assets has become a factor in the dispute. Lo and behold, the report is now being thrown around the courts between opposing sides of the case. The appraiser is ultimately dragged into the conflict, unwittingly, and is being asked to present confidential data, and potentially be subpoenaed or testify at a later date.

As long as there are clear statements in the engagement agreement and report regarding the intended purpose and users for the valuation, in addition to a clause addressing client confidentiality, the appraiser is protected from involuntarily being dragged into the proceedings.

The prior client and appraiser need time to directly discuss the case and the reason why the original valuation report might be used. During this discussion, it should be determined who may be involved in engaging the appraiser for what is now considered a new consulting and updated valuation assignment. I’m highlighting this phrase so it is clearly understood, there needs to be a professional discussion between the prior client, attorneys and courts involved, so the appraiser can be comfortable that:

  1. There are no potential disclosure issues involved.
  2. They are the ones allowing (or disallowing) the prior report to become part of the case.
  3. They are entering into a new engagement with the appropriate parties to present any data related to the prior work, begin a new consulting assignment, and/or update the report.

This is the appraiser’s work product, and there are obligations and privileges which need to be recognized by any and all parties now involved with the litigation dispute. Any future work requested should be compensated by the new clients, based on the current rates of the appraiser.

In summary, documentation requirements required by the governing appraisal bodies, such as intended users and report purposes, are important for the appraiser and their clients to understand so any future developments are handled professionally and sensibly.

Tags: Litigation, appraisal report, Machinery & Equipment Appraisals, best practice

Dealing with Divorce: How an Equipment Appraisal Can Help

Posted by Equipment Appraisal Services on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


Divorce is almost virtually never a simple process. When people who shared their lives decide to leave a marriage, it's natural for each party to want what's best for them. When it comes to dealing with equipment values, having a professional equipment appraiser provide a machinery valuation helps ensure everyone gets a fair share of the business. Here's why.

Dealing with Divorce: How an Equipment Appraisal Can Help

  • Equipment values are different that that of home, auto or cash item values. While it's much easier to identify the value of common, everyday items, machinery values can have a range. This range can be manipulated by one party to ensure they're getting a better deal than the other party is receiving. This often plays out that the leaving partner wants a higher amount of the business than the remaining partner is willing to sacrifice out of concerns for whether the business is able to remain solvent. Which ever side of the divorce you're on, having an equipment valuation performed by a certified machinery appraiser means the value will be determined in a way that is fair to everyone.
  • You need to meet legal requirements. Though there are a wide range of appraisal methods that can be used on business equipment, the court system often limits the methodologies that can be used to determine equipment value when dealing with the dissolution of marriage. The most common methodology is determining fair market value, which takes a wide range of changing factors into account, to determine a value that is fair to both sides of the dissolution if the business is to remain in operation.
  • But what if there's a push for one partner to get out of the business? In cases like this or when the equipment needs to be sold quickly so that both parties can receive their appropriate profits, fair market removal may be used.
  • If a situation is in place where both parties want out of the business and need the money quickly to start their lives over, they may be willing to settle for liquidation value, which provides a significantly lower value for the machinery, but tends to produce a solid cash value for the equipment which would then be split equitably among the parties. Though this is a rarely used technique, it is still in place in many no-content divorces and similar situations where neither party is remaining vested in the company's interests.
  • Certified machinery appraisers can work from a variety of positions. They can be hired by one spouse, the other spouse or by council. They can also work for both spouses, helping both parties reach an equitable distribution of the business value. Because divorces often demand a certain amount of testimony, make sure your appraiser has experience working in that type of situation.

Divorce can be a messy process, but equipment appraisals helps make sure everyone's interests are addressed during the process. If you haven't had the chance to speak with a certified equipment appraiser, we're here to help.

Tags: Equipment Appraisal, Litigation, divorce appraisal

Reasons for Retrospective Appraisals

Posted by Equipment Appraisal Services on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


Oops! When you've made a donation, are involved in litigation or have had an insurance loss, there's nothing quite as concerning as realizing that you needed to have equipment appraisals performed after the fact. How do you fix this problem? In this article, we'll discuss retrospective appraisals and how they can help you get the documentation you need to fix these troublesome problems. Here's how:

Documenting Donations

One of the most common areas where retrospective appraisals are used is in donations to non-profit or not-for-profit organizations that were not properly documented at the time. Especially when you're looking at taking a tax break for the donation, you need to have documentation to take the deduction. If the documentation was not prepared at the time of the donation by an equipment appraiser, it can be really difficult to otherwise prove the value of the equipment you donated. But at the end of your business year, your accountant informs you that they need you to provide supporting documentation for your donation. If you're stuck in this bind, you can still save the deduction by having a retrospective equipment valuation performed by a qualified machinery appraiser.

Proving Litigation

Another area where retrospective valuation can come into play is in litigation. One example of this is when going through a divorce where you need to buy out your spouse's interest in the business or prove that you're not hiding assets. Your spouse  may claim that you're undervaluing equipment that you've sold to keep things solvent while the transition is underway, because they want to get everything they can out of the buy out. A retrospective equipment valuation helps prove that your equipment was worth a particular amount prior to being sold, documenting that you were not hiding or undervaluing business assets.

Insurance Loss

When you've suffered a loss that sets your business back, it's upsetting when you realize you don't have documentation of your equipment values. Whether you're dealing with the fallout of a storm, a fire or a theft, documenting the value of your equipment is a vital part of the claim process. If you didn't have a machinery valuation performed ahead of time, you may be having a difficult time proving what the equipment was actually worth, especially when the equipment was customized or has unusual features that your insurance adjustor isn't familiar with. A retrospective machine appraisal helps prove the exact value of the machinery when the loss took place.

Tax Issues

What about when you're dealing with a tax agency? Equipment can lose value quickly at times, especially if it is in a struggling industry or when technology quickly changes. When a tax appraiser doesn't have a solid grip on the value of the machinery you own and just uses accounting depreciation, it's difficult to prove your side of the appeal without documentation. A retrospective valuation helps prove that the machinery was worth looking at market conditions, the condition of the equipment and similar elements that affect your machinery's final value.

If you find yourself needing to do the time warp to prove equipment values, a retrospective equipment appraisal can help document past value. At Equipment Appraisal Services, our job is helping you document equipment values, even after the fact. Please contact us today for help with your retrospective machine appraisal.

Tags: Litigation, Insurance Loss, donation appraisal, retrospective appraisals