As a recent article on ABC News commented, it's a common refrain among hobbyists and collectors, who often fear their "treasure" could end up in landfill or sent to Vinnies when they die. These concerns, or other concerns about the how or what of a Will, often result in delays in doing a Will.
But my widget collection is worth $50,000
The first thing you need to understand in Estate planning is, no it isn't worth $50,000. An item is not worth what you spent on it. Either someone will inherit the item who like you has an appreciation of your hobby, in which case it is worth infinitely more than any financial figure, or someone will inherit it who has no interest in your hobby, in which case it has no value to them. Worse still, the value may be negative, because they need to pay to dispose of it.
(In case you are wondering, a widget is or used to be a hypothetical item that accountants use in their problem solving, John runs a business where he sells widgets for $2 each, that sort of thing).
So what can I do?
First of all, everybody needs a Will. Not only is there the risk that the wrong people will inherit your stuff, or that unnecessary litigation will fritter away your estate, but there is also the risk if any of your descendants are under 18 that their share of the Estate would be managed by the Public Trustee until they are 18 years old.
Second of all, if your executor is an intelligent person who you trust (and you should appoint such a person as your executor) then they can decide what to do with these sorts of collections.
Thirdly, if you don't trust your executor to deal appropriately with your collection there are things you can do.
Who do I give it to?
You can make a specific gift in your Will to someone who you think will either value or appreciate your collection. It is best that you check first that this person actually wants the collection, or they may refuse it and the Executor may therefore have to dispose of the collection.
You can find a charity that could use your collection. Most charities probably help people who have interests in certain hobbies, find a charity that helps people who have an interest in your hobby. That person will value your collection far more than your descendant, who will probably just sell the whole thing in one fowl swoop on Ebay.
You could dispose of it during your life time. If you want it sold at the correct value then you need to start doing this during your life time, firstly as it may make you realise what the 'correct' value is and change the way you deal with the collection, and secondly because if you have already begun the process of selling some of the items it is easier for the Executor to replicate this.
If you are part of a group that appreciates this hobby then ask around, what are others doing, what have others done, what works and what doesn't. You probably have far more access to this sort of knowledge than your Executor.
What's the next step?
The next step is to make a Will, or if you have already made a Will and it doesn't deal with these issues then you need to update your Will. Make an appointment to speak with one of our solicitors today to ensure that your wishes are formalised, and your Executor has the power to properly deal with your assets.
If you would like more information about Estates and Wills generally, or our firm specifically, then click on the button to the left and read some more of our articles on this topic.