Inheritance - A Practical Guide To Managing A Family Collection


Having witnessed first hand reoccurring issues my clients face when managing private and estate collections, I decided to write the following guide to help. Often a large family or estate collection is left to the executors or beneficiaries to manage. There are a number of tasks that should be considered to help ease the process.

1 - Get an up to date inventory or valuation

I recommend engaging a specialist expert to first assess if the collection warrants an inventory. This first step helps to identify the pieces worth noting, conserving and insuring. I have encountered collections that a family have literally spent months inventorying, only to find out many pieces are not suitable for auction, are of little value and do not need to be listed for probate. These pieces are usually donated or gifted.

Collection inventories and valuations have often not been updated in years. This is problematic as they will not reflect the collection as it stands or current market values. These historical lists are useful but there are always changes and updates to be made. Experts keep up to date with the latest schools of thought on value, market trends and new research studies which can change consensus on the finer details.


2 - Valuation

As a specialist I am able to identify the all-important market changes. This will prove invaluable when an estate needs to quantify value for inheritance tax and estate purposes or adjust insurance premiums to match current value. It is important to note that not all “antiques, collectables and art” go up in value. Values fluctuate in both directions.


3 - Provenance & History

In my experience it is always best for the specialist valuer to be engaged to work with the primary collector. This process is best conducted early on, affording the specialist time to ask the right and relevant questions and to gather valuable provenance and history from the collector themselves. This information can make a tremendous difference, not only in the value of a piece, but also to the legacy of a family heirloom.


4 - Condition

It is important to note condition to help identify any conservation issues and advise accordingly. If an item has been damaged, it may be advisable to carry out restoration, an insurance claim or adjust insurance cover accordingly. This a case-by-case assessment as restoration may increase value exceeding costs or be costly exercise not worth doing.

All our inventory services are provided with thumbnail images. For a more comprehensive inventory, a full valuation may be conducted which includes insurance and/or market values. These reports can be tailors to your individual needs.

If you are interested in our valuation, inventory and specialist services, please get in touch today!



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