Welcome to this series of articles reprinted with permission from an article series appearing in the Estate Life magazines published for residents of Old Preston Hollow/Bluffview and Highland Park and sponsored by Geolat. The Estate Life Magazines in Dallas are part of a network of private magazines published for affluent neighborhoods across the country by N2 Publishing.
We will be chronicling the very dramatic life led by our fictitious couple, Dash and Delilah Highworth who live in an estate home in the neighborhood. All the escapades that Dash and Delilah will encounter are true issues that have been encountered in real life. Surely no one family would experience each and every one of these issues—except for the ill-fated Highworth family. The tales of this ongoing saga are written with the goal of making you better aware than the Highworths of things that can happen and how you can prevent such dramas and/or be prepared for those you can’t control. Watch for name-dropping of the various specialized services available right here in Dallas that the Highworth family will turn to, to address their needs!
Alas, the grieving process has been long, but Aunt Buela did lead a fulfilled life and she was kind enough to leave her niece Delilah a number of things in the will, including her entire jewelry collection. In her golden years, Aunt Buela sort of lost her organizational skills, so her jewelry collection arrived to Delilah in a Crown Royal bag all tangled up together.
Delilah has made an appointment to have the jewelry appraised at Geolat. She’ll go there right after the Kidney Foundation luncheon. So she hops into the Bentley with the Crown Royal bag, which she hides under the seat before the valet parks her car.
Thankfully, she arrives safely at Geolat with the bag in tow and dumps the jewelry onto a felt-covered tray. Thank goodness they checked the bag carefully because a black pearl had worked itself loose from one of the necklaces and rolled out all by itself.
After taking an initial look at the jewelry, Patti Geolat gives Delilah a polite scolding about transporting the bag without inventorying it first and about transporting it in the way that she did. How would she know if the valet reached in and took something? What if someone had seen her drive up and hop out of her car with the Crown Royal bag and rightfully concluded that a woman who looked affluent carrying something like this was probably transporting something of value? Delilah leaves the jewelry behind for care and appraisal and promises Patti that she will take her advice about being more security conscious.
Geolat’s jewelry appraisers in Dallas comes back a week later and Delilah is delighted about how much her net worth has increased. The appraisals will become part of the home inventory manual, where the jewelry and other newly inherited items as well as existing items in the Highworth home will be cataloged. A copy of the inventory and appraisal values will be given to the insurance agent that Geolat recommends to underwrite this collection. Delilah will not be allowed to come back to pick up the pieces herself; after the pieces are cleaned and repairs are made, a fully insured delivery service will deliver them to the Highworth home. Delilah has also been referred to Bernadette Schaeffler’s showroom on Hi Line Drive in the Design District to see the special home safes that she imports from Europe. But she has been warned not to keep her pearls or opals inside any part of the safe that she doesn’t plan to open regularly as these gems will get dehydrated. Pearls will deteriorate and opals will craze due to lack of air, causing unrepairable damage and complete loss of value.
Series Part 2
Last month, Geolat appraised jewelry inherited by Delilah after the passing of her Aunt Beula. The items were photographed, cataloged and insured by a valuables policy allowing the jewelry collection to be itemized with the value of each piece, or group of pieces, on the policy. The policy was one offered by a carrier specializing in the high-net-worth (HNW) market. It provided a buffer against temporary fluctuations in the replacement cost of valuables by paying market value up to 50 percent higher than the scheduled amount of coverage in case of loss. In comparison, standard policies could pay even less than the scheduled amount if an actual cash value clause is in effect. Also, a standard policy might not pay for losses due to breaks or fractures of fragile items.
They found that differences exist beyond coverage. HNW-market carriers will often bring in experts to suggest safety measures, such as a backup generator to keep a temperature-controlled wine cellar operating during a sustained power outage. Families such as the Highworths who have a second home on a beachfront, may also appreciate the HNW carriers’ ability to assist in the evacuation of precious items from homes caught, for example, in the path of a hurricane.
While they can rest easy about their jewelry collection being properly insured now, there are more lessons to be learned by the Highworth family—this time, having to do with security! It seems that Jewel Highworth, the daughter of Dash and Delilah and a sophomore in college, was home visiting last month. Jewel was very excited to survey the valuable jewelry in Dallas and selected a priceless brooch of Aunt Buela’s to wear with her presentation gown for next February’s DSOL Debutante Ball. So, she took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook. A few days later, Jewel posted pictures of herself with her parents on a quick trip they took to Paris. “We’re here! Having the time of our lives!” she posts.
What Jewel didn’t know is that today, in pretty much every smartphone, there is built-in GPS. Photos automatically embed the latitude and longitude within the photograph and there are people out there equipped with the right software and the wrong motivation that can download the photo and extract the coordinates from the metadata. And she made it convenient for them to decide when might be a good time to break in and steal the brooch by letting them know when she and her parents were out of town!
Fortunately, the basic security system that the Highworths had in place, and the fact that their house manager happened to be staying in the home prevented the burglary attempt, but the Highworths are now researching what’s available today in futuristic security technologies. Their friends in Los Angeles have a home that doesn’t need keys thanks to biometric recognition software. It has infrared cameras that can read the thermal heat signatures of everything in their sight lines, and also has a special panic room.
Series Part 3
Fortunately, the basic security system that the Highworths had in place, and the fact that their house manager, Hans, happened to be staying in the home prevented the burglary attempt that occurred after daughter Jewel Highworth posted too much information on Facebook.
But it seems that the new housekeeper, too, took note of the newest family jewelry additions. The cataloging process helped make what was missing obvious. But that housekeeper did pass the background check that the house manager did on her! Unfortunately the Highworths and Hans the House Manager learned that criminal record checks can give a false sense of security.
After hearing about all the unwanted attention that the inherited estate jewelry has caused, Patti Geolat is sure glad that she appraised and cataloged it and steered the Highworths toward an insurer that specializes in high net worth asset protection. Quite the resource for all things having to do with protecting high net worth assets, Patti suggested that Hans and the Highworths research Resource section of the Domestic Estate Managers Association website and confer with Dallas chapter president Peter Van Ryder of Estate Management Solutions about household staff hiring practices. Hans did just that and learned that the electronic background checks that employers order from third party background check services are simply not adequate in accessing a person’s true character.
First, there is inconsistent reporting by jurisdictions when an individual is arrested. There is no law that requires jurisdictions to upload arrest and conviction information into a database that is accessible to those requesting background checks. In fact, several states choose NOT to upload this information all together. Furthermore, there is no requirement for jurisdictions to report timely information. Some jurisdictions consistently report, but there are some jurisdictions that report arrest/conviction data that lags up to one year. Record search loopholes also exist when people have spent time abroad. A national record search will never capture arrests in other countries. Secondly, criminal record searches are only valuable if someone has been arrested or convicted of a crime. Statistically, people that engage in criminal behavior rarely get caught by police.
To replace the rogue housekeeper, Hans will have to do a better job in checking references and learning to ask the right questions and observe verbal and non-verbal cues to better evaluate household employees during the face to face interview process. In fact, he is going to sign up for a class that DEMA will be hosting on this subject!
For more information on the Domestic Estate Managers Association, visit www.domesticestatemanagers.com. Contact Peter Van Ryder about training for your staff by emailing Peter@VanRyder.com