Almost all of the work that we produce has the potential for a contest. For federal income tax and transfer tax matters, the contestant is the Internal Revenue Service. For business organizations and reorganizations, the contest may originate with shareholders, debenture holders, creditors, and occasionally, an agency of the federal government.
Our preparation, analysis and reporting assumes an eventual contest. Assuming contest, we make every effort to issue a business valuation report that is trial ready. Our conclusions will be documented. Our reasoning will be explained. Our documentation of procedures used and not used will be defined to comply with the requirements of the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. We will not use shortcuts to reduce the cost of the appraisal process to you. We believe the best deterrent to a contest is by way of thorough preparation, analysis, and reporting before the first shot is fired. Of all the valuation contests originated by the Internal Revenue Service for federal income and transfer tax purposes, only two very junior estate tax attorneys contested value – and these two contests died on the vine as the freshman IRS attorneys turned to technical issues (think Internal Revenue Code Sections 2036 and 2703) to support a case that did not exist in fact. With this said, the commodity almost used to settle a dispute is valuation. For example, Section 2036 disputes are resolved by give and take with regard to discounts for lack of liquidity (DLOM). The settlement appears to have been the resolution of a valuation contest. In actuality, the contest was about other matters. Value was the medium of exchange for settlement.
In planning that involves family members who may have conflicting interests, we have been asked as a part of our assignment to meet collectively and separately with all interested members of the family. In serving as an independent valuation consultant and in working with all members of the family, we have contributed (occasionally, but not always) to solutions that avoid or at least deterred family contests. This process is time-consuming, expensive, and can be exhausting – and it can be powerful for senior family members who want, above all, family harmony.