When I have works appraised, doesn't the appraiser ensure that I have clear legal title to the subject object?
An appraisal of fine art or another important collectible does not address the legal title of the appraised work.
Appraisals should comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal called “USPAP” to meet industry standards and IRS requirements for donation and estate purposes. Generally, rendering an opinion on clear legal title is outside the scope of work of an appraiser under the appraiser’s professional liability policy and USPAP. An appraiser must specify in writing matters such as provenance, ownership interests and other restrictions or encumbrances that can affect the value of the object and must specify the assumptions the appraiser has made in rendering an opinion including assumptions about clear legal title.
In 99% of all tangible personal property appraisals, the appraisal does not comment on clear legal title but simply assumes without any investigation that clear legal title exists.