How Do I Do Estate Planning for My Coin Collection?

People who bother about estate planning, often have a tendency to collect interesting and often valuable items, from art and antiques, watches to jewelry, to firearms and baseball cards to numismatic or bullion coins.

Forbes’ recent article, “Astute Estate Planning For Art, Antiques And Valuable Collectibles,” says that personal property items, like a coin collection or artwork, can pose an added degree of estate planning complexity, for several reasons.

Tracking. Personal property items are easily “lost” or misplaced. Use inventory software or keep copious records. You should also retain receipts, appraisals and other imprimaturs and bona fides of provenance.

Assignment and Transfer. Since personal property can “walk off,” it’s smart to make certain that all applicable parties, such as heirs, are informed of inventory lists or other tracking methods, with clear instructions on who gets what. You can even add in your will an addendum “Exhibits A-Z,” to make sure that nothing gets lost. Photographs, serial numbers, and other identifying data can be added for more fungible items, like firearms.

Security and Insurance. Use precautions like safes, safety deposit boxes and alarm systems because transportable valuables present greater risks of theft and of fire/disaster. There can be different insurance rules based on the item. You may need separate deductibles, endorsements, riders and proofs of location and ownership to have proper insurance coverage.

Documentation. Particularly for art and important antiques, it is vital to have documentation that supports authenticity and records provenance. This can include certificates of authenticity, bills of sale, condition reports, artists’ notes and photographs, along with appraisals and insurance reports. A gap in documentation can result in challenges in establishing provenance and authenticity.

Valuation. Most personal property is in a very illiquid market, and the price is very much whatever the market will bear. Specialized knowledge may be needed to arrive at a fair price.

Estate Tax Issues. Retain accurate inventories to make certain that all value is properly accounted for, if an estate tax return is due. It’s not uncommon for these items to be “forgotten” at tax time since, unlike securities, bank accounts and real estate, the IRS can’t easily track estate ownership of the assets, whether or not they’re taken by members of the family.

Reference: Forbes (April 8, 2019) “Astute Estate Planning For Art, Antiques And Valuable Collectibles”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Valuation, Coins, Artwork, Provenance, Wills, Letter of Last Instruction, Asset Protection, Probate Court, Inheritance, Estate Tax

About the author

Bob Brumfield

Attorney Bob Brumfield has been practicing law since 1984 and regularly receives the “Top Lawyers in California” award as well as the “Client Distinction” and “Client Champion” awards from Martindale-Hubbell.

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