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Art and Sentimental Items in Estate Planning

The New York Times has an interesting article on the value of an art collection in estate planning.
That’s not something most people think about. After all, most people aren’t serious art collectors.  Even among those who are, these collections usually exist more for personal satisfaction than financial gain.
“Art investors are nearly always advised not to invest in art at all, but to collect it,” the Times writes. “Buy what you like, the conventional wisdom goes, not what you expect to increase in value.”
But artworks do have value, whether it’s a little or a lot. There can be considerable gray area in the valuation of that art, so the tax implications are profound.
More to the point, art has a non-economic value too, and that can be even harder to define.
The art pieces in your home likely mean a lot to your loved ones. We aren’t only talking about fine art here, either. Everything from family portraits to kitschy curios represents a part of your estate, and when sentimental value enters the picture, they can actually become some of the most meaningful assets in your possession.
I have relayed the story of clients who almost went toe to toe in my office, grown mature adults mind you, over a family item that both had particular memories and attachment to.  Guns, jewelry, and tools are all something that I have seen families argue over. 
While these are material items that have no real worth, it is an example of why it is so important that you create an estate plan with “the little things” in mind.  Your art might be worth a pittance or a fortune, but in either event, you need a plan for passing it on to someone else when you’re gone.
A Will is not usually the place for personal or sentimental items, but that does not mean you that you should not have a plan.  With these items you may want to have some fun or joy with giving them to your loved ones before you pass.  However, be careful real estate, stocks, and perhaps art are subject to appreciation.  Gifting them while you are alive could result in capital gains tax for your loved ones in the future.  
Art and other sentimental items tend to cause more family feuds than any other assets after a loved one’s passing.  Spare your family that hardship. Take care of your artwork distribution with a comprehensive, custom-designed estate plan today.

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