Artists and Collectors

Artists and collectors face unique estate planning considerations.


Artists and collectors should keep a comprehensive inventory of their works with detailed information about each work. A useful inventory lists the name of each work and the date it was created and fixed in a tangible medium. The medium, the dimensions, and any historical information should be included (for example, when and where the work has been exhibited and any catalogs in which the work was published or offered for sale). If a work was produced in a limited edition of multiple copies, the inventory should state how many copies were produced and whether the plate or cast was destroyed. The inventory should note the appraised values for insurance purposes.


In the case of a very valuable collection the artist or collector should consider whether life insurance (structured to be owned by an irrevocable life insurance trust) is necessary to provide liquidity for estate taxes.


After the death of the artist or collector the executor of the estate (or the trustee of any applicable trust) should make sure all works are insured, inventoried, and securely stored.

Any records regarding copyrights, transfer of copyrights, licenses, registration, renewals, and exercise of termination rights should be reviewed and recorded. If works of art are on loan, the executor (or trustee) should notify the borrower of the estate’s (or trust's) intent to preserve its interest in the works and, if circumstances dictate, demand return of the works. If the works are to be auctioned through an auction house, the executor should negotiate the terms of the sale with the auction house.




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