How to include an art collection in estate plans

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2022 | Estate Planning

In estate planning, objects with emotional value can often be some of the hardest to address. Art collections often fall into this category. Collections often carry a great deal of value in terms of the owner’s taste and emotions, making them a less straightforward asset to bequeath. Despite the trickiness of this type of asset, art collectors are advised to take steps to plan ahead for who should receive their valued pieces. Here are two of the steps involved in developing estate plans that include an art collection: 

Step 1: Develop an artwork archive database 

One of the most important pieces of an art collector’s estate planning is their archive, which will include details of all objects in the collection. It is important to pick a database that is internationally established, such as the Getty Object ID, and to be thorough in recording details like the artwork’s title, date, materials and so on. These descriptions will be critical when it comes to determining who will receive which art piece. 

Step 2: Discussing plans with loved ones 

The details within a database only tell part of an art collection’s story. What is often more important, especially when determining who will get which piece, is the story behind its procurement. Does it hold represent an interest or story that connects the collector with a family member? If so, perhaps that family member would want to have it for emotional reasons. Determining what is a fair distribution, including the possibility of giving pieces to a gallery or museum, is an important family discussion. 

Once these foundational steps have been accomplished, collectors will be well-positioned to develop a plan that serves themselves, their loved ones and the institutions they wish to support with their artwork. Financial planners, art experts and an Oregon estate planning lawyer can all help with the process of evaluating the collection and developing a plan that considers both the emotional and monetary value of a collection.