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What will happen to my art collection after I'm gone?

Art is your passion. You've been collecting fine paintings for the last three decades, but now that you're coming closer to the end of your life, you're starting to worry about what could happen to your paintings when you're gone -- especially because they've appreciated in value so much since you originally purchased them.

You'll need to include your art collection in your estate plan. The thing is, you'll want to do this with care and attention to detail. Most estate planners do a poor job of addressing art in the distribution plans in their wills and other estate planning documents. Your goal will be to avoid these mistakes. To help you along the way, here is some pertinent advice:

Be careful to avoid family feuds: Art pieces -- even if they're not worth very much on paper -- can hold a great deal of sentimental value for your family members. As such, when you decide who will get what in your estate plan, it's important to have a dialog with your family members to make sure they're on the same page. You may find that one family member would prefer to have one piece of art, while another family member prefers another. The more dialog you have with your family, and the more clearly you let them know what your wishes are, the less likely they'll be to disagree with your decisions and engage in family infighting after you're gone.

Organize your files of provenance: One important issue that all art collectors pay close attention to relates to certificates of authenticity, files of ownership, insurance records, bills of sale and other important documents. If you don't already know about files and documents relating to provenance, you'll want to study more about these issues to ensure that all of your art is appropriately documented.

If you're an art collector, creating a plan for your art, determining potential tax liabilities attached to your art, deciding who gets what in the fairest and most agreeable way possible and putting together your files of provenance is essential. An in-depth understanding of Tennessee estate planning law will certainly go a long way toward helping you in these goals.

Source: Mary C. Lagrone, "Wills and Will Contests," accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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