Have you seen Antiques Roadshow? It’s a PBS television show in which antique experts travel around the country to critique and appraise antiques brought in by local people. Quite often on the show someone will bring in an old knick-knack they found in grandma’s attic, only to find out it’s actually worth hundreds or thousands of dollars! Now imagine that for every person who makes this valuable discovery on television, there are at least three people who end up selling their own unrecognized treasure for a few bucks at a yard sale. It’s painful to consider.
How can you ensure that your family recognizes the value of your treasures? The first step is to talk to your attorney about creating the right estate plan to protect ALL your assets, and provide for their distribution upon your death. Your next step is to make a list of assets and keep it with your estate planning documents, where it can be easily found. Your list of assets should include not only real estate property and financial accounts, but personal property as well—the artwork, historical artifacts, and antiques you value so highly. Your list should include a description of each item, an approximate value, and the name of the person you would like to inherit the item (if applicable.)
This list is called a Personal Property Memorandum, and can be an essential component in your estate plan. Very often the person named as executor of an estate is the most responsible and organized member of the family; this is just what you need in an executor, but it’s not always the person who will look at a 200 year old, somewhat worn, antique bureau and recognize its value. Having a list of assets included in your estate plan will ensure that the valuable pieces are recognized and appreciated—regardless of who is named as the executor of the estate.
For more information about personal property memorandums, or about creating the best estate plan to protect your family, please contact our office.