Serving Clients in Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven Counties

Art Collections and Estate Planning

It’s not uncommon for Connecticut art collectors to fail to make adequate estate plan provisions for their collections. In some cases, neglect may simply happen because of procrastination. This can lead to significant taxes on the collection at the owner’s death, or it can result in family conflict. If a collection is not divided fairly among heirs, the family might end up in litigation.

However, there are several steps collectors can take to avoid this. One approach that can simplify the process is having the art owned by corporate entities. This can prevent the need to retitle each piece of artwork. Art may be placed in a trust and passed to individuals or passed to a charity after the owner’s death.

It’s also important to have paperwork in order. Without the proper paperwork, questions about the provenance of a piece of artwork could arise. This becomes more likely with older works of art or pieces where there is less connection between the owner and the artist. People should have insurance records for the collection as well as bills of sale and deeds of authenticity.

A person who has a valuable art collection might want to talk to family members about estate planning. Some family members might want a particular piece of art. Talking to loved ones about the estate plan and explaining why certain choices were made can also reduce the likelihood of the plan being misunderstood or challenged. An attorney might also be able to offer guidance about the different options based on the estate owner’s goals. For example, if the collector wants to donate the art to charity, the approach might be very different than if they hope the collection will remain in the family for generations.