Part of owning a train collection is that you will have to decide what happens after you cannot care for it anymore. If you haven't started estate planning, now is the best time to do so.
Without an intentional estate plan, your property will be distributed by the courts based on Probate laws, which vary by state. In many states, the Probate laws dictate that your spouse and children will receive a share, which can cause unnecessary hardship if your spouse receives only a fraction of the estate. Furthermore, the courts will usually insist on controlling your minor children's inheritance until they come of age. Any assets you own will have to go through your State's Probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs. When a court decides how to distribute your estate, it can result in assets of the estate being tied up for months or years, especially if there are disputes between your heirs.
At the end of the day, your estate planning should focus on reducing the burden for your loved ones. The thought and time you put into organizing and dictating your estate will help move along the process, resulting in reduced legal fees and a smooth disposition of your estate according to your vision, not the court's.
Estate planning involves the creation of a “Will” or “Living Trust”, which will answer important questions about your vision for your estate, such as:
This should give you an idea what is involved. Yet ,this is not an exhaustive list, especially if you own a business or have members of your family with special needs or disabilities. To make sure you don't miss anything, we recommend you discuss your estate with a Lawyer.
Here are some general recommendations for how to proceed with Estate Planning:
You likely spent considerable money and time shopping for and caring for your trains. Nobody knows your collection like you do, and nobody is better equipped to determine the best way for your trains to be passed down to your heirs. Here are some of the key points you need to consider:
Trainz got into the model train business because of our passion for the hobby and we understand if you don't want your hard work to be liquidated after it gets passed on. Consider the future of your collection. Look at the pros and cons of each decision, not just for yourself, but also for your intended heirs.
The two key questions to ask yourself here are:
If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, then your Will should include instructions to liquidate the collection. If you would like your inheritance to remain in the family, include proper instructions about caring for your collection and file your Inventory List with your Will.
Regardless of whether you decide to liquidate the collection, it is imperative that you have an accurate inventory list of your collection and determine an accurate value for your trains. Unrealistic valuations can cause imbalances in the Will, and increase the likelihood of a dispute between your heirs.
Here are some recommendations for how to determine an accurate valuation and document your vision for your trains:
Selling Tip #1: Even if you choose to auction your trains with a Train Dealer, select one that can afford to purchase your trains via an outright cash purchase. Financial stability is a decent indicator that you can trust a dealer with your collection.
Selling Tip #2: Local Live Auctioneers are seldom train experts, and often sell your trains in large, arbitrary lots, which can result in your heirs receiving much less for your collection than they should. A word of warning: your heirs may consider this option if you leave them without detailed instructions on how to liquidate your collection.
Your inventory helps everyone involved in handling your estate:
A current inventory List accelerates a sale and makes the inheritance process easier for everyone. Remember, don't procrastinate! There's no better time than today to start maintaining an inventory!
Here are our tips for developing and maintaining an Inventory List:
Finally, for your convenience, we have provided below a checklist of our key recommendations for Estate Planning:
Your Trains Buying Team