Personal Property – Art and More

Personal Property – Art and More

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Bequeathing Art, Cullections, Antiques and other "Personal Property"

What is personal property?

i. It's a coin cullection, oil paintings, grandpa's uld pocket watch.

ii. Personal property means pretty much anything other than land and buildings, or intangibles like contract rights.

Why its so important to deal with.

i. Emotions, emotions, emotions.

ii. Personal property can often evoke more emotional impact than any other estate asset, often way out of proportion to its value.

iii. Easy to get "lost". If you're the executor you have to get a handle on what is present or heirs may sue.

iv. Audits - too many executors treat personal property loosely. How can you prove what it was worth to the IRS? Get an independent company to do an inventory and valuation. Video tape and shoot pictures of everything.

v. Get it insured for what it is worth. Don't rely on what the decedent had for insurance.

How distribute?

i. You can include in your will a reference to a separate written document to distribute personal property. In many states such a list has official clout for disposing of the documents if the state requirements are met (e.g., in your handwriting, signed by you, etc.).

ii. Leave it up to the executor.

iii. List in the will where each item goes.

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