By: Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho
What have you collected over your lifetime – buttons, baseball cards, Jim Beam bottles, thimbles, salt and pepper shakers, egg beaters, poker chips…? The list is endless. Your collection could be just a curiosity with little value (except to you), or it could be worth $100,000 or more.
What will happen to these possessions after your death?
The collections should be addressed in your estate plan. There are three basic choices.
- If you believe a family member or friend is interested in the items, you can specify in your planning papers that this person is to receive this distribution. If it costs money to insure, store, display and maintain the collection, you may want to provide the funds to cover these expenses for a number of years into the future.
- Sell the items. If this is your choice, and the items are unique, it is helpful to supplement your estate planning documents with a reference to at least two professionals who are familiar with the collection items. This way a knowledgeable person can assist whomever administers your estate to sell the items.
- Donate the collections to a charity. The best practice is to talk with the non-profit first to determine their interest and see if it matches your wishes. In addition, the charity may require added funds to maintain the collection and without those funds, they may not be willing to accept the gift.
A client recently told me it takes a lot of work to die. He is right. No matter. You had fun for years acquiring items to add to your collections. It will give you satisfaction to spend a fraction of your time collecting to put in place a plan for your treasures.