3 Things Families Wish They Knew When Handling an Estate

3 Things Families Wish They Knew When Handling an Estate


Equitable distribution and tax issues are best addressed before they become urgent and emotionally draining.  A family’s lack of preparation always leads to more unintended turmoil down the line.

As appraisers and advisors, we’ve been helping manage personal property assets for over 20 years.

Here are the 3 best tips our clients have shared:

  1. Start While Your Loved One Can State Their Wishes. It may be a tough subject to bring up, but many older family members actually want to tell the story of their objects while easing the decision-making burden on their relatives. By beginning early, your family will be able to talk about the future of the objects clearly and calmly while you and a family attorney come up with a plan to best meet the wishes of the estate owners.  Gifting is often preferable to bequeathing and you should learn why.  Record your family’s stories.  You’ll be glad you did. 
  2. Obtain an Appraisal from an Accredited Appraiser. Oftentimes, parents are flexible about who gets what estate assets, as long as the distribution is fair and equitable. Some wish to make donations to non-profits, too. For those with valuable antiques, fine and decorative art, jewelry, silver, and special collections, it is nearly impossible to divide items fairly from a financial perspective if you have no idea what the items are worth. There are also non-profit guidelines and limitations to be considered along with significant tax ramifications.  Your attorney or financial manager can work hand-in-hand with your personal property appraiser to consider all aspects of equitable distribution and donation, in a stress-less timely fashion. This appraisal will become a useful tool (saved in a safety deposit box) sooner than you probably expect.  Don’t put it off.  It’s money well spent to sleep well.
  3. When Downsizing: Planning Works. Determining keepers, sellers, gifts and trash will be emotionally and financially taxing. With an unbiased appraisal in hand, the process of downsizing is so much easier.  A good appraisal will not only identify the obvious valuable objects, but  will surprise you as well.  The objects you thought had value often turn out to be insignificant AND the objects you thought worthless, may indeed, be VERY significant.  It will also identify the marketplace for the objects. It’s good to know what you need to know long before you need to know it!  De-accession planning is especially crucial for gifting to family or non-profits.

Estate asset dispersal can be a nightmare for an Executor and family.

It is never a nightmare for The Magnusson Group.

The Magnusson Team of Estate Appraisers, Advisors, Specialists, Sale Managers and Support Staff will help you do the right thing by working with your attorney and your financial manager to fairly achieve your estate goals.

Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search