appraisal n.
An assessment or estimation of the value or worth of an object.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 2003

Art appraisals are used to establish the value of an object based on one of the following criteria:

• Charitable donation
• Equitable distribution (inheritance, divorce)
• Division or estate planning
• Estate valuation for Internal Revenue Service
• Fair market value for research or sale purposes
• Insurance replacement value

The most reliable appraisals are done by qualified appraisers who have expertise in a certain style or genre of art and are personally able to personally inspect the artwork. When considering an appraiser or firm, look for someone who is skilled and knowledgeable about appraisal work, ask for references, and find out what their costs will be in advance. “Free Appraisals” are not accepted by most insurance companies or the IRS.