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Collectibles and other items can create chaos at probate

Establishing an estate plan is an important but often overlooked step to take at any point in one's adult life. Like many, your parent may have started with a will or power of attorney then added to the plan as your family grew or when other changes in life's circumstances warranted a change. Your parent made sure to update the beneficiaries and trustees periodically, but did he or she protect those assets named in the will or funded to the trusts?

While it may not be difficult to keep track of investment accounts or real estate, other assets are not as easy to protect. When an estate includes unusual, portable or collectible items, the owner of the estate may have to take extra steps to ensure the items are still in the possession of the estate when it comes time to distribute them to the heirs.

Did your loved one prepare well?

It may sound like a simple idea to keep track of your valuables. However, this is not always easy. Collectors of art and antiques like coins, stamps, baseball cards, jewelry and paintings often stash these items away and even forget they have them as time passes. Even out of sight, the value of these collectibles may continue to increase. Depending on the items and their conditions, by the time you inherit them, they may be worth a small fortune as long as your parent did any of the following:

  • Kept a careful inventory or catalog of the items with documentation of authenticity
  • Reviewed and revised the inventory periodically, including you and other heirs in the process
  • Filed and organized records related to the items, such as appraisals, receipts, condition reports and photographs
  • Purchased and maintained insurance for the items
  • Obtained a fair valuation of the items in preparation for tax time
  • Kept the items protected, such as behind an alarm, in a safe or in a safety deposit box

If your loved one failed to carefully prepare an estate plan to protect similar assets, you may be struggling to obtain what you feel is your rightful inheritance. These matters can be complex and may involve the work of collecting the items, organizing documentation and acquiring an accurate valuation to prove your case. A skilled New York attorney may have the resources necessary to help you meet your goals.

 

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