Man with his art collection

Whether you’re an art collector or the pieces you own were passed down to you by someone else in your family, proper planning is a must. There’s no guarantee that your loved ones will understand how to care for these items or even be interested in managing them. Some advanced planning on your part can protect the art and make things easier for your loved ones.

Leaving the collection outright to your family members can create an array of problems. Without proper advance valuation, they might not realize how to get the work appraised. If the intention is to sell the art, your family might not know how to store or care for it appropriately. If family members can’t agree on who gets what, it can create legal disputes. These are just a few examples of how improper planning for your art creates problems in your estate planning.

Thankfully, as an estate planning lawyer in NC can tell you, one of the most popular options is to use a revocable trust.

How to Use a Trust

A revocable trust allows you to make changes or to dissolve the trust during your lifetime if you want to. It also allows a lot of flexibility, making it a top option for putting valuables like art under the trust’s ownership. If instead, you pass your art collection down via your will, it becomes a matter of public record. There are plenty of reasons why you might not want your art collection detailed in documents of North Carolina courts, so using a trust instead adds privacy and clarity for your loved ones.

When you use a revocable living trust in NC, only the trustee (the person appointed to manage the trust) and the beneficiaries (those who receive assets from the trust) know what’s inside these documents.

Special Considerations for an Art Collection

Before finalizing your decision to give your art to someone in the family, set aside some time to think it over, possibly after searching “estate planning lawyer near me” and setting up a meeting with an experienced attorney.

Why? You might need to consult with your family members about the future of your art collection. It’s an assumption to build your entire plan around passing these items to a child. What if the child doesn’t want the collection and feels obligated to hold onto the pieces because they were important to you? Your heirs might not be interested in maintaining your collection. If it’s important to you that the art be stored or displayed in a certain way, you might want to expand your planning options to incorporate gifting to charity, a museum, or another person.

Start by having a conversation with your loved ones about your collection. As sentimental as it might be to you, don’t assume anything and allow your loved ones to ask questions. Don’t make them feel bad if they’re not interested in keeping or displaying the art. You want to know that your collection is taken care of. If you’re okay with someone selling the art after you pass away, it’s still worth determining who is the best-equipped member of your family to handle that situation. Discuss the specifics of getting the art appraised with that individual, too.

LLCs for Your Artwork

If you don’t plan to use a trust, another option is to work with an estate planning lawyer in NC to form an LLC. You can choose one member of the LLC to manage the interests inside or appoint multiple people. Whoever has an interest stake in what’s inside is responsible for making decisions about it, so bear in mind that your family members sharing this role must agree on the next steps.

If all family members can get on the same page, there is no issue, but conflicts can arise if they cannot agree on a selling price or schedule. Be mindful of these unique family dynamics when creating or updating a plan.

Should You Donate Your Artwork?

You’ve possibly spent a lifetime building your art collection. It might be hard for you to consider parting with it at all. At the same time, most collectors want their art to be appreciated and protected by others with a similar mindset. One way to accomplish these goals in your estate planning is to donate the artwork. You might be eligible to get tax benefits by pursuing this strategy, too, but always check with your estate planning lawyer in NC to ensure you’re using the right approach.

If you have particular requests associated with gifting your art, document them in your plans. For example, perhaps you want your art displayed in a specific wing.

Carolina Family Estate Planning Will Help You Get Your Ducks in a Row

If you’re searching for an “estate planning attorney near me” to find a qualified North Carolina estate planning firm to help you with your art collection, Carolina Family Estate Planning’s experienced, caring, and dedicated team is ready to serve you. Schedule a needs assessment call at 919-443-3035 or complete our online form to set up a vision meeting today. 


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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.