Whether an antique collection contains a few family heirlooms or pieces collected over a lifetime, almost every collector wants his or her collection to be enjoyed forever. No thought concerns collectors more than envisioning their collection languishing in a storage unit or, worse yet, being sold as scrap. Here are five ideas for ensuring an antique collection can be enjoyed forever:
One way to ensure that a collection of antique silver is appreciated forever is to sell it to another collector or professional antique silver buyer. Professional buyers specialize in alloys of silver and gold, the two precious metals used in most jewelry. By dealing with someone knowledgeable about antique jewelry, you can be sure that you receive fair value for the pieces. More importantly, you know that the piece will be sold as antique jewelry to another collector rather than being melted down or scrapped. By selling pieces from your collection during your lifetime rather than disposing of them after death, you can control who receives the pieces and the value received for the pieces.
Suppose your antique jewelry collection includes your grandmother's antique sterling wedding ring that you promised to your favorite niece. Rather than leaving the ring to her in your will, you can give the ring to her as an engagement gift or wedding gift. By giving away pieces of your collection during your lifetime, you may be able to reduce the size of your collection to reduce or eliminate estate taxes that would be due when your estate passes to your heirs, although the gift recipient may be responsible for gift taxes. More importantly, you can be assured that your antique sterling silver goes to someone who will appreciate it and that he or she will appreciate it during your lifetime.
Another way to ensure that an antique jewelry collection is appreciated forever is to donate pieces to a museum. Museums are often organized as non-profit entities and donations may be tax-deductible. Moreover, you can be assured that your treasured antique gold jewelry or antique silver jewelry will be appreciated by museum visitors. This also has the benefit of reducing the value of your estate to potentially reduce or eliminate the estate taxes when your estate passes to your heirs. As an alternative, you may sell pieces from your collection to a professional antique jewelry buyer and donate the proceeds of the sale to charity. While the tax benefits may not be as great, you will know that you have received fair value for the pieces and that the pieces will be sold to another collector who appreciates antique jewelry.
Wills take two forms: holographic and formal. A holographic will is a handwritten document that explains how property is to be distributed. Holographic wills are not always recognized by courts because they lack the signatures and witnesses required for a formal will. A formal will, on the other hand, meets all the legal requirements to be valid. A will can include the name of experts knowledgeable about your collection, such as a professional buyer of antique jewelry, to assist the executor in determining the value of your collection and ensuring the right pieces reach the right heirs. Passing your collection to heirs by will allows you to enjoy your collection throughout your lifetime, but can have drawbacks. When an estate is probated, the distribution of property can be challenged if your instructions were ambiguous or there is a later document purporting to replace or alter the will. Moreover, property that passes by will may be subject to estate tax which may require some of your antique jewelry collection to be sold to pay taxes.
Personal effects, such as an antique silver collection, can be included in a trust. The benefit of using a living trust to distribute your collection is that you can enjoy the collection through your lifetime and then have total control over the disposition of the collection upon death. Trusts are not probated and some kinds of trusts are structured to avoid estate taxes. Moreover, trusts and wills can include instructions to donate your collection to charity or sell your collection to a professional antique silver and gold buyer upon your death.