A subpoena and a destroyed workfile

Q: "I was served with a subpoena to testify at a deposition and I am also supposed to bring my appraisal and work file with me. My only problem is that the appraisal in question was done in 2000 and I have already destroyed my file. Now what do I do?"

A: I wonder if you have any records on your computer that you might be able to find. Often an appraiser will keep a copy of the report on a hard drive, even if his paper file has been shredded. Check to see if you can find a computer copy. If you have nothing, just call the attorney who sent you the subpoena and explain your situation. Be prepared. This attorney might know nothing about USPAP and your record keeping requirements. You might need to provide the attorney with some USPAP sections to prove you are not just trying to "dodge" the subpoena. The attorney might ask you to come in to testify anyway. If that is the case, you need to be careful about the questioning. Just explain that you no longer have any of the requested documents because you shred your files that are more than five years old. If anyone puts an appraisal in front of you and asks if it is a "true and correct"  of the appraisal you performed, you have to answer that you do not know. If you no longer have a copy of your report then you cannot be sure that what has been placed in front of you has not been altered in some way.

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