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Make Plans for Dividing Up or Preserving Collections in Estate Plan

One important part of the elder law estate planning process involves working out inheritance details. This comes with unique concerns for each family as various assets have different meanings for each individual, far beyond their market-value. Accounting for these emotional attachments is a delicate process that should not be done hastily. For example, one valuable that may present unique inheritance challenges are collections. Our New York estate planning lawyers appreciate that many residents have spent years building collections–from holiday villages and marbles to art–and have strong feelings about how they’d like to see the valuables handled after they are gone. A recent story in The Ledger argues that planning is paramount.

Collections, like other art and antique valuables, can present somewhat complex inheritance concerns. Large collections can be hard to physically manage, have difficult value estimates, and still may have tax implications. On top of all of that, collections are often laden with emotional value–some family members may love the collections, others may not. But it may not even be as simple as passing it on to one who cares for the objects. Some children may have no desire for the objects beforehand but may become emotionally attached after their parent’s passing because of the way that the collections helps them remember their loved one. In this way, family fights over what to do with collections–particularly large ones that are hard to manage–can be common.

For local residents, avoiding the potential inheritance mess comes down to one thing: have a specific New York inheritance plan in place. The planning process will involve asking tough questions about the best options for the future.

Many different options exist. Some seniors who know that their children or grandchildren do not have the same passion for the collection will decide to sell it while they are still alive. Others sell parts of it–keeping the most cherished items, selling others, and listing which items should be should at a later time when values increase.

Of course many are not ready to sell a collection and instead want to pass it on. These individuals often consider it a “stewardship of the collection” and want the objects to remain in the family as long as possible. However, if this route is decided upon, potential estate tax issues must be taken into account. Sometimes it is best to pass on the collection in pieces while alive using the annual gift tax exclusion. At other times passing along collections in trust is a superior option.

Finally, beyond selling it or passing it down, depending on the collection, it may be appropriate to give the items away to a museum or other body that can find use for them.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Art and Antique Succession Planning Should Not Be Overlooked

Tips to “Lawsuit-Proof” An Estate

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