Handling Antiques and Special Assets in Trust or Estate Administration

by | Jun 8, 2021 | estate planning

When you begin the estate planning process, make sure that you plan for all of your assets and property, including antiques and other unique assets. These personal property items can make the trust or estate administration process more complex, so it is essential to plan ahead right from the beginning.

The trust and estate administration attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have many years of experience helping their clients create estate plans and set up trusts. Our California attorneys are also skilled at handling trust and estate administration. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys to learn more about what we can do to help you with trust and estate planning and administration.

What Are Antiques?

Antiques are items that someone collects due to their beauty, rarity, age, utility, condition, unique features, or a personal emotional connection. Typically, an antique item represents a previous period or era in history.

Antique items tend to show some degree of attention to design and craftsmanship. You can find and purchase antique items at many different locations, such as antique shops, auctions, and estate sales.

Should Antiques Be Included When Estate Planning?

It is always a good idea to have a specific plan for every asset so that your trust or estate administration will be carried out according to your wishes. Generally, you have two main options—either leave your antiques to your heirs or beneficiaries or choose to donate the items to charity.

Including specific instructions for the distribution of antique items to designated beneficiaries can eliminate many of the issues that may arise during the administration process. Additionally, special tax and estate laws may apply to antique items, so it is a good idea to address these issues upfront when initiating your estate planning.

Special Considerations to Keep in Mind When Handling Antiques in Trust or Estate Administration

Handling antiques in trust or estate administration can be complicated in some cases. If you are a trustee or the executor of an estate and you are responsible for handling antique items, there are some things that you can do to help make the process go smoothly.

Track the Antique Items

First, you should locate and keep track of all antique items as soon as possible. It is not unheard of for a relative or friend of the decedent to try to take valuable items before an inventory is completed—so be sure to get the inventory finished quickly.

Additionally, antique items can be easily misplaced or lost, particularly if they are small items. Quickly locating the antiques and tracking them from now on can eliminate this problem.

Documentation and Valuation

Another thing to keep in mind when you are handling antique items during trust or estate administration is to be sure to obtain any necessary documentation for these items. Unless you happen to be an expert in that area, it is also a good idea to look into the actual value of the antique items and possibly have the items evaluated for value.

You can find specific experts who are qualified to evaluate antiques and provide accurate appraisals. It is essential to keep in mind that while something may be assigned a certain value, you would still need to find a buyer willing to pay that price. A reputable appraiser of antiques should be able to provide a realistic idea of the value of the items and may also be able to help you connect with collectors who will pay a fair price for the items.

Issues with Charitable Donations

In some cases, the decedent will address the antique items in the trust or estate documents and will designate these items to be donated to charitable organizations. This is often a more complex process than most people would assume.

Collectors of antique items may assume that they will be able to find a museum or non-profit organization that will jump at the chance to accept a donation of the collection; however, this is not always the case. Many museums have more items than they can display, so a lot of their things are actually in storage.

It will cost non-profit organizations money to store and maintain antique items to ensure that they remain in good condition. For this reason, many of these organizations will want the collection to come with a cash donation to be used to maintain the collection of antiques.

Additionally, the organization may only want to accept a few items from the collection or just a portion of the collection. It is helpful to be mindful of these issues as you get started with handling antiques in trust or estate administration.