You have spent years collecting them. Whether they are paintings, wine, figurines or baseball cards, your collectibles are your passion. You’ve invested time and money into your collection, along with a great deal of emotion and care. You may have been told that your collection is valuable — or warned that your efforts probably will not pay off in economic terms.
Since your collection is special to you, you should plan for what will happen to it when you die. There are three main ways people dispose of valuable collectibles: Leaving them to another party, donating them to charity, and selling the collection. You should take the time to investigate your options, decide on your goal and take action by creating an estate plan or incorporating your collection into an existing plan.
Find out who would be interested in receiving the collection
Although your family members may have fond memories of your collectibles, that may not mean they have the interest — or storage space — to take them on. And, even if your collection is truly museum-worthy, it may take time to find a museum with the funding to store and care for it. Do not underestimate the attention and resources necessary to properly care for a valuable collection.
Get your treasures appraised as a collection
Whether you plan to sell off the collection or are trying to gauge the interest of a charity or museum, you will need an appraisal. This can be tricky, as the value of collectibles is largely based on what prospective buyers would be willing to pay. Hire a reputable appraiser with experience in valuing collectibles — ideally, collectibles that are reasonably similar to your own. This person should be able to point to past sales of similar items when estimating the value of your collection.
In addition, you should prepare an estimate of the annual cost of maintaining the collection. Take into account issues such as whether the storage must be climate controlled and any requirements specific to your collection.
Incorporate your collection into an estate plan
Once you have identified the intended recipient of your valuable collection, you need to put your plan into action. Have an attorney draw up an estate plan to transfer your collection to your chosen loved one or charity. This should include a description of the items — item by item, if possible, along with their value.
Whatever you decide to do with your collection, the decision should be yours. Do not wait to create an estate plan — and be sure to include everything you treasure in that plan.