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October 20, 2017

Estates

antique frames

Evaluating Antique Frames

There is one thing I can count on whenever I evaluate an estate: most rooms will have one floor and three or four walls. Consequently, well-decorated homes may have many more items on the walls than on the floors. Too often, estate executors spend most of their time inventorying the large items of furniture on

old electronics disposal

What to Do With Old Electronics

Sorting through an estate last month, I came upon a desk whose top had apparently not seen the light of day for at least a decade. It was piled high with receipts, papers and junk mail. I shuddered as I opened the drawers to see what was inside them. Drawer number one was filled with

Understanding the Auction Consignment Process

Arguments rage as to whether it’s better to consign collectibles for resale via auction or to sell them oneself via private treaty. Detractors of the auction method say that auction house fees are too high: up to 50 percent of an item’s final price. Auction enthusiasts say that the auction method of selling is inherently

Protecting Your Sole Proprietor Estate Assets

You’ve worked long and hard to build your business. You have a great reputation, strong cash flow, a solid asset base, and reliable employees. You operate “lean and mean” as a sole proprietorship. You may be a car mechanic, consultant, plumber, eBayer, building contractor, landscaper, professional or other entrepreneur. Then you die unexpectedly without an

The Need for Estate Sale Operator Licensing

The headline of the consumer complaint post was brash: “They literally stole our whole house: they sold $42,527 worth of items and gave us a check for $1,682.” The details of this homeowners’ plight were tragic: he had been “ripped off” by an estate sale company. According to the story on ripoffreport.com (specific company/client has

Five Steps to Take When the Liquidation Company Says No

It’s a common occurrence: an executor calls an estate sale company to provide an estimate for liquidating an estate’s personal property and the liquidation company says “no thanks.” Why does this happen, and what can an executor do when it does? It happens because liquidating an estate’s personal property can be a monumental job, and

Why Millennials Don’t Want Their Parents Stuff

There was a time when prosperous Americans eschewed durable consumer goods. Rarely would they buy a mass-produced sofa or dining set. Instead, they bought functional antiques that would hold their value from generation to generation and not be fodder for the dump in six or seven years. Take the DuPont’s of Delaware, for example. The

Estate Wins Ruling vs. IRS on Art Collection

Rumor has it that estate attorneys all over America are gleefully dancing around their desks. The reason for the lawyerly ruckus was that the Internal Revenue Service had just lost a case with major implications for the estates of collectors. At issue was whether an estate could parcel out an art collection according to the

American Estates are Gaining Momentum: Will Yours Keep Pace?

Freedom of speech; freedom of religion; freedom to peaceably assemble. The American Bill of Rights was created as a framework for American Society. But the real gem created by the Founding Fathers—the one that truly separated American society from British society—isn’t part of the Social Studies curriculum of any American public school. The hidden gem?

Who Gets Your Digital Assets When You Die?

Our lives have become digitized and password protected, and when we die, access to our accounts and rights to the contents thereof die with us—unless we make digital access part of our estate plan. It wasn’t too many years ago that one’s “important papers” were stored in a shoe box, file drawer or safe deposit

Bequeathing a Collection, the Smart Way

To some, leaving behind a meaningful legacy upon death is important. To have built a house, written a book, created a business or performed a heroic deed speaks to one’s character and may have a more lasting effect on future generations than the dollars and cents that are passed on through one’s last will and

Deciding Who Gets Mom’s Belongings

“When I’m gone,” said Mom about a year ago, “I want you each to have back the gifts you’ve given me over the years. I’ve marked them all with a sticker on the bottom.” My siblings and I shot quick glances at each other; we hadn’t expected this. We had gathered at Mom’s for our

safecracking

How to Open, Price and Sell Residential Safes

One of my “go-to” movies when I’m in the mood for a caper-flick is “The Italian Job” starring Mark Wahlberg. In a clever bit of cinematography, Wahlberg’s gang of thieves steal a safe full of gold bars by using explosives to cut a hole in the floor around the safe causing it to crash through

Executors’ Headache: Selling Trophy Mounts

If you were an estate executor and discovered a cache of illegal drugs in a decedent’s home, you’d know not to sell them, right? Of course; everyone knows that there are consequences for selling controlled substances. If you have even a modicum of environmental awareness, you also know that it’s illegal to improperly dispose of

What to do with an Estates Upholstered Furniture

Writer Amy Gale, in her book “Shows, Shops, & Auctions: Essays on the Antiques Trade,” recounts a tale of London surgeon Samuel Sharp, traveling in Italy in 1760. In the late 18th century, says Ms. Gale, the Italian countryside was a place of “hunger, lawlessness and filth.” Dr. Sharp would agree with her conclusion. On

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