Just how many heirs are looking at that art hanging on the wall?

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In chronicling the inventory of a comparatively high-asset life for its eventual transfer to heirs via your projected estate plan, you’ve perhaps accounted for that coin collection that your youngest child was always fascinated with.

Ditto the fine china and silverware that has been in your family for generations, the cabin up north, and numerous other heirlooms that are important family keepsakes.

Now, what about that Picasso painting hanging on the living room wall?

OK, that is concededly a bit of a stretch (if you’ve got such a thing, it’s likely well guarded and under constant scrutiny), but the imagery is advanced to make this point: Some American families of sizable wealth do have extensive and exceedingly valuable art collections that must configure one way or another into estate plan outcomes.

On the one hand, if you’re a proactive and forward-looking individual, you are probably working closely with a seasoned estate planning attorney to deal with your art treasures in a smart and meaningful way. You are likely taking steps to transfer them to loved ones, donate them to charity or place them in trust with directions for the future.

On the other hand, though, as noted in a recent Forbes article, you may have adopted a “default option” marked by “procrastinating until it’s too late.”

Surprisingly, states Forbes, that latter “strategy” is often what features where pricey art work is involved. Many people are shrewd about collecting valuable art, “but not about disposing of it.”

And that can obviously throw a real wrench into what happens following an affluent art owner’s death. If no plans were timely made to deal with an art collection, it might just end up in the probate process. That could ultimately yield a heavy tax burden, family sparring, lawsuits and enduring acrimony.

The end goal for disposition of treasured art in most instances is certainly its passing along to select parties who will properly care for it, while simultaneously avoiding family wars and a huge tax levy. Forbes duly notes that input from an estate planning professional can materially promote those goals.

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