Advice on selling collections from an estate
December 3, 2011 10:29 AM Subscribe
I'm looking for general and specific advice about striking a balance between value and ease in selling a few disparate items from an estate.
posted by Luke Skywalker to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My father died recently. It was unexpected so little thought had been given to the disposition of his possessions. He had a will in place that transfers everything to my mom so I expect no issues there. We are a small and tight knit family with excellent communication and we will talk out issues of what individuals want to keep versus selling so I don't need advice there.
Dad had a few fair-sized collections in a few areas that we probably will not want or be able to keep most of. I'm thinking about how to sell these things with a few considerations in mind:
1. Value. My mom is retired and on a fixed income. Her position is secure but certainly not luxurious and I'd like her to enjoy the benefit of as much value from these possessions as possible.
2. Ease and speed. My siblings and I live in the same state as our mom but not so close that we can manage day trips unless we take the whole day off or on weekends. Transporting or storing these things away from Mom's house would be difficult. I'd also like whatever we do to impugn as little on Mom's life as we can manage. Finally, my mom is most likely going to want to sell the house within a year or so (that's a whole other topic these days but for the sake of argument assume this won't be a problem).
The specifics: probably the most substantial issue is a large collection of very high quality woodcarving hand tools, some dating back to the 40s/50s. Given how they have been kept and used the value in these is likely to be most as tools rather than as antiques/collectibles. They in many cases are of the highest quality, thoroughly used but well maintained. None of us know much about tools.
Another significant collection is of film photography equipment: a number of cameras, lenses and related tools/accessories/luggage. Again, nobody has a lot of knowledge about this.
Finally, a library of books. I'm guessing most of these are worth little, but it dates back again to the 40s/50s and there may be some rare philosophy books, first editions etc. in the mix.
In general the options seem to be to hold an estate sale, or an auction, or to try to bring in dealers to take on whole collections. Trying to piece stuff out and sell it individually doesn't feel like it is logistically possible. Are there options/approaches I'm missing?
We'll have professional financial advice but just looking ahead, any idea how the taxes in a situation like this work out? Does Mom pay taxes on the possessions up front or would we wait to pay taxes on the income from their sale? This is in MN in the USA.
Any input about how to publicize/seek dealers etc. for the specific types of items is appreciated. I'd like advice about whether we should try to single out any items of particularly high value for individual sale, and any advice about how to approach that if so. If you've been through a process like this, any advice about how it went, managing the logistics, unexpected issues is welcome. Thanks for your input.