If you have a family member or other loved one who wants you to be their estate executor there are a number of things that you can do to make sure things go smoothly. Massachusetts and some other states use the term personal representative now in lieu of executor. Being named a personal representative is a big responsibility but it can be rewarding to know that you are carrying out the wishes for the person whose estate you are handling. You will need the assistance of an attorney and may want a financial planner’s advice as well.
I have a number of suggestions from my experience with handling the sale of estate personal property that may be helpful. If you know you will be named estate personal representative in advance, find out as much as you can about how the person wants their items to be distributed while they are able to share this with you. Some family heirlooms may be promised to specific family members. Make a list, include them in the will and label those items. It may even be better to distribute them while the person is alive. The person who owns them should handle this unless you have power of attorney to act on their behalf. Speak with your tax advisor for implications of large gifts. Also, try to sell whatever else you can ahead of time. Selling some quality antiques and valuables can help provide money for mortgage payments, insurance, nursing care and other necessary expenses. You may have to pay for an appraisal to evaluate your pieces or you might just consign them with a reputable auctioneer. It’s much easier for the heirs and estate planning professionals if the collection has been liquidated and they are dealing with cash. The person who collected the antiques may also be able to provide important details about their collection. Many clients tell me that possible heirs have no interest in their collections before they consign items with us for auction.
If the home becomes empty you should make sure the location is secured. When we assisted people with a recent estate there were many keys that had been distributed to family, friends and neighbors. The locks on the house needed to be changed. You may also want to move valuables from the home to a safe place. Let your attorney know that you plan to do this so that no-one thinks you are doing anything improper. You may want to get an alarm system if valuables remain in the home.
If you are handling a descendant estate, you may need to hire an appraiser. The Massachusetts estate tax exemption is $1,000,000. You can check with your attorney to determine whether or not the estate will meet this threshold. An appraisal may still be desirable in some situations where the estate is valued under $1,000.000. One reason is for the equitable distribution of assets. Many times the heirs divide the personal property amongst themselves. There might be disagreement on what each piece is worth. A personal property appraiser can make a determination on value so that the heirs can split the assets fairly.
Our Shrewsbury online auction has been delayed at the request of the owner. It will now be taking place in November. Please keep checking www.centralmassauctions.com for more details or follow us on social media.
Please keep in mind that I’d like to interview local collectors who want to discuss their collections for future columns. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-612-6111.
Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612- 6111), email@example.com