Historical items can be valuable. This presentation-inscribed Colt Model 1861 New Model Navy Revolver, from the Colt Co. to E.W. Parsons of Adams Express Co., sold for $805,000 at a September 2011 auction.
This article was originally published by Heritage Auctioneers & Galleries, Inc., "Trusts & Estates Journal," Fall 2019, page 17.
Tell me if this story sounds familiar: Brian was a military history buff who gathered a carefully curated collection of books and artifacts over his lifetime. By the time Brian died, his collection was quite valuable. Brian named his daughter, Jessica, as the Executor under his Last Will and Testament. Jessica was the only of Brian's three children living nearby, had always been a devoted daughter, and had an MBA, so it only made sense for her to administer his estate. Unfortunately, Jessica did not share Brian's love of military history and, not knowing what she had on her hands, sold most of the collection to a local pawn shop for less than half of what it was worth. Brian's son, Jacob, who shared his father's affinity for the collection, was devastated when he heard what his sister had done. Not only was the estate depleted of valuable assets, Jacob was deprived of the opportunity to own these very meaningful items.
Selecting an Executor or Trustee
Naming an Executor (called a Personal Representative in some states) to administer your estate is an important decision, and can be a difficult one, particularly if you own property that requires special knowledge and attention, such as fine art and collectibles. Though sad, it is safe to say that most estate planners could tell a tale or two like Brian's. Often, the people we trust most to handle our affairs after death did not share all of our interests in life, and may not be the best choice to manage, sell, and distribute items that are precious and valuable. Conversely, those who share a common interest in collectibles may not be the best fit when it comes to handling the other financial and personal aspects of estate administration (not to mention that it can be quite a burden to place on someone who is not a close family member).