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How Have You Helped You Heirs?

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Posted 05/23/2021   12:59 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add STTScott to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Given the number of "my dad/grandfather/whoever died and now I have all these stamps and are they worth anything?" questions --

Have you done anything to help your heir/s along to point out your valuables, or indicate why a particular stamp/s are important, etcetcetc?

Me, I've put color-colded srickers on the important ones as well as a catalog on all of them so my kid kinda knows what's what and won't be total clueless when I'm gone and she gets a few folders of stamps that she had no interest in during all these years.
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Edited by STTScott - 05/23/2021 01:05 am

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Posted 05/23/2021   02:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It seems to me that the most important thing to do is to inform your family what they can do with your collection, meaning how they can sell it. Your guessing the sale value of each part of your collection is either going to be its catalog value or its real saleable value. The first figure is going to be very misleading to most non-collectors and make them feel they're being cheated by dealers which they aren't; the second is going to vary over time and from dealer to dealer.

I'd put most of my "education" of family members into providing them with some contacts as to who to sell the collection to. Who has a good reputation, can evaluate the collection well, and can offer a fair price for it? That's all they really need. It's so-called "value" is going to only be your guess, and much of the time it's going to be wrong.

I mean, let's face it, we might see different parts of our collection as more or less valuable, but our heirs are not going to understand a lot of that. They're just going to want to sell it all as one lot. I can't imagine they're going to want to pick and choose the best items to sell or not to sell. The safest assumption is that they aren't going to know anything about stamps or the value of stamps. So your providing a few contacts for who they might sell the collection to ought to be the top priority. If you plan to ask your heirs to consign your collection to an auction house (if it's that valuable), then your identifying key items may help get the best price for it. If that matters a lot to you.

It's helpful to label each part of a collection, but it's probably more helpful to write a description -- maybe a list -- of what you have for potential buyers rather than for family members who aren't even going to understand most of what you write. Even a simple list identifying each album and its general contents will be helpful. It's "value" is just kind of a guess, at best. If my collection were worth a huge amount of money and my survivors sold it for only 10-15% of its catalogue value, that's money they never would have had otherwise. For them, it's a "no-lose" situation. And I don't even care if they get the best price, just that they get rid of it and get a decent price. Selling it without a lot of time and hassle gets the collection off their hands, and as non-collectors would else would they do with it?

I suggest not offering a lot of technical stamp-related advice to family members about how to bargain for the best sales price. It won't work. A buyer will offer what they think it's worth, and that's it. And a non-collector is completely unprepared to bargain. Tell them to contact more than one potential buyer. Give them those names and contact numbers. Which auction houses or dealers should they contact? Describe for them how that will work. Will a buyer come to the house? What will he do? Tell them to take the best offer from someone who also offers the easiest way to dispose it. Will they cut a check right away? Will they take it off your hands or do you need to ship it?

Beyond that, I really don't want to burden my family with the business of negotiating the sale of my collection. Just contact these potential buyers and take the best offer -- and that's it.

Even better, start selling parts of your collection before you're too old. "Downsizing" may be the best gift you can give to your survivors. People who leave a lot of stuff behind make it harder on their families. Cleaning out my in-laws house filled with 50 years of stuff took my wife and me well over a week. And most of it we just gave away -- or threw away. I made at least six runs to the town dump! If they'd had a collection of some kind, I wouldn't have known the first thing about it. I might even have thrown it away. Here's another good example:

A friend of mine had a huge collection of old books that he loved. He was a scholar, a Ph.D, and a teacher. He'd built up this collection over a lifetime and it filled his home with books. He suddenly passed away in his 70s from cancer. What do you think happened to his lifetime collection of books? His daughter has too much on her hands with her own life, so she consigned it to a local bookseller who is going to pay her a very small price -- but she has to box everything up and make it movable, a job that will take her weeks. It's not his fault he died suddenly, but he could have cleaned out the collection as he got older to make things simpler. And it's not the small amount of money the daughter will receive that's a "problem" as whatever that amount is, it's more than she had before. She doesn't lose anything. It's entirely a benefit to her. But disposing of it is kind of a major pain for her, and that's my point.

Don't make disposing of your collection a big problem for someone. Keep it as simple as possible. Write down potential buyers' names. Describe the collection in specific terms, but be brief about it. Highlight any "gems" but don't overdo it. And then don't worry about it.
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Edited by DrewM - 05/23/2021 03:01 am
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Posted 05/23/2021   02:49 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A few years back I developed a 'Album Disposition Form' which is a free, downloadable PDF form that you can fill out on your computer, print, and then insert into the front of each album/stock book you own.
https://stampsmarter.org/learning/F...osition.html
While not meant to replace a legal document like a will, this form is designed to give more disposition information to family members on a album by album level.
Don

Edit: of course the trouble with a will is that they can be costly to constantly update when you add new items to your collection. This form is free and easy to use as you add more material.
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Posted 05/23/2021   03:41 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bobby De La Rue to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My executors know what to do in the event of my sudden demise.

Should I get advanced warning, I'll be doing as much of the work as I can before I shuffle off.
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Posted 05/23/2021   10:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Germania to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is one place to start:
https://stamps.org/services/estate-advice
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Posted 05/23/2021   10:54 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As is the Collection Disposition Guide from the American Helvetia Philatelic Society
https://stampsmarter.org/learning/F...osition.html


Quote:
...Should I get advanced warning, I'll be doing as much of the work as I can before I shuffle off.

Agreed Bobby, but I can tell you that this is a hard thing to do.

After getting 'advanced warning' you tend to immerse yourself in the things that you enjoy. The thought process is easy to be that of a victim, feeling sorry for oneself. I know, I know...it is easy to think that we will not be like that, that we will face our impending mortality with grace, honor, and dignity. But the truth is is that dying is often painful, ugly and hard.
Don
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Posted 05/23/2021   12:35 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add STTScott to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think so far, @DrewM has given a great rundown. IMO, I think -- and what @DrewM has given -- is a sense of context. In other words, the basic who's and why's -- of why we built our collectons and why they are important to us as a whole, and why parts of them would be financially valuable to our heir/s who have no interest whatsoever in our hobby, and who get stuck with our collection/s after we're gone and they go "Great. Now what?"

I've run into this with my daughter, who will inherit my collection. Talkng about it and what to look for if you want to be a collector makes her eyes glaze over. But there are stanps in my collection that I've color-coded in importance and CV, because I've seen froum posts from heirs where responses have said "They're common, no value" that might've been enough for further discussion, but based on the responses, the stamps and the whole collection ended up inthe dumpster.

If a stamp in my collection can get her $60-80 pawn-shop/Ebay value when she needs the rent, well, that's one of the reasons I collect what I do. Not *the* reason, but oneof the reasons.
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Edited by STTScott - 05/23/2021 12:44 pm
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Posted 05/23/2021   12:53 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add STTScott to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As @Studebaker51 said in reply to @Bobby, thinking about our own mortality is one thing, and not anything anyone wants to thnk about, for sure. But the fact of the matter, our collections have a financial value, and because stamp collecting is pretty much a "Um ... duh" matter to our heirs, IMO it's up to us to help them along. To point out thngs in our collections and say "this is notable and worth something." Even if there's just one of those in your collection. Because, y'know, when you're dead and gone, your stamps are going into the dumpster because nobody don't know any better.

Whether it's a basic spreadsheet or an app mentioned in this thread, it's something we ought to have in the front of our minds as well.
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Edited by STTScott - 05/23/2021 12:59 pm
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Posted 05/23/2021   1:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have people that will assist in the disposition of my collections. They are dealers and auction houses that I have long term solid relationships with and they are aware of my plans. Much of the material came from these same places. Better material that matters the most dollar wise is scanned and documented through receipts and spreadsheets. Take the time as you go because trying to catch up later will be a real drag.

Edit to add:

Specificity in your Last Will and Testament and changing it as necessary is a must.
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Edited by rogdcam - 05/23/2021 1:12 pm
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Posted 05/23/2021   1:49 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Parcelpostguy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Me, I've put color-colded srickers on the important ones as well as a catalog on all of them so my kid kinda knows what's what and won't be total clueless when I'm gone and she gets a few folders of stamps that she had no interest in during all these years.


Not to put too sharp of a point on the subject, but it also really depends on the total value of the holding. There is a big difference of a couple of hundred, thousand, tens of thousands and greater in value when it comes time for disposal. You are not clear in where you interest and concerns land on that scale. It is far harder to dispose of 1000 $20 stamps than 20 $1000 stamps or just 2 $10,000 stamps.

You use the term "important" but what is that a code for, expensive (to you), expensive for anyone, rare but of little value due to lack of demand, relatively worthless but establishes a previously unknown detail or what?
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Edited by Parcelpostguy - 05/23/2021 1:50 pm
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Posted 05/23/2021   3:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Casey Magoo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I will keep this short. I have spent a fair bit on stamps and plan to sell everything off in 10-12 years. Not leave them to someone who doesn't want them, but turn it all back into cash. I have a bit of time to get organized but I still like to buy right now. I have two teenagers who don't seem to have a strong interest in anything let alone collectibles.
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Edited by Casey Magoo - 05/23/2021 3:50 pm
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Posted 05/23/2021   4:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add gmot to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@Casey, you never know if one of your kids will develop an interest at some point. Since my son (age 20) started helping me with online sales he's developed an interest - and definite aptitude - for stamping. So now he's the lucky winner of it all when I kick the bucket :).

That being said, a good inventory and clear, simple instructions to your loved ones/executors as to how to access & interpret it all - is key.
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Posted 05/23/2021   5:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rjan55 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is key topic for intermediate+ level collectors. I just had to guide a widow of a fellow collector through disposition of his collection. It was complicated by his statements to his family that his worldwide collection would be worth $50,000. That was a reach but the floor and selling price range was not immediately obvious. There were 100+ Scott Specialty albums for the entire world, many in decrepid condition. But there was real strong areas. The family got quotes from 3 dealers all in a reasonable range. They sold slightly higher to another collector who came into picture. They were still uncertain but I believe they did the best that was available.
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Posted 05/23/2021   8:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bobby De La Rue to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Agreed Bobby, but I can tell you that this is a hard thing to do.

After getting 'advanced warning' you tend to immerse yourself in the things that you enjoy. The thought process is easy to be that of a victim, feeling sorry for oneself. I know, I know...it is easy to think that we will not be like that, that we will face our impending mortality with grace, honor, and dignity. But the truth is is that dying is often painful, ugly and hard.
Don


For the most part I do agree Don.

Personally, I've long come to terms with my own mortality but I appreciate that this isn't the case with most people.
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Posted 05/24/2021   03:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Talking about it and what to look for if you want to be a collector makes her eyes glaze over." STTScott, this is sad but true for a lot of us. Even my wife can only "take" a couple of sentence from me at a time about my stamp collection -- before she starts gazing out the window at the birds. I had a good friend once who had a nice coin collection and who tried to talk to me about how wonderful some of his coins were. I found myself looking out the window! It's hard to convey your enthusiasm for something to another person. Your enthusiasm for it came from your own unique personality and experiences. Other people are different.

As noted here, almost all basic and many intermediate collections probably aren't worth enough to worry about. I'd guess about 90% of stamp collections fall into that category. I'm not sure what the cutoff point is for a collection being worth enough to be sold later and therefore needing our heirs to be knowledgeable about, but it has to be somewhere above a few thousand dollars.

After I'm gone, if my wife decides to make a bonfire out of my 60 year stamp collection, what am I going to do about it? At that point, it wouldn't be an issue for me, would it? What I want her to do is to sell it fairly quickly and efficiently. That's all I care about. Putting stamps back into circulation matters to me, and I want her to know that. Treating albums full of stamps a little like artworkds is one way to explain them to family. Theyr'e not just "stuff," but valuable stuff that can be sold and should be put back into the stamp world for others to enjoy. But, again, if their eyes "glaze over" and they don't care, well, that's their business I suppose as sad as that will be. Life belongs to the living, as they say.

I'd never pick a dollar figure for my collection since that would be purely a guess on my part. And value goes up over time -- usually -- in any case. The heir who insists on selling for a price they've been told a collection is worth is going to be making a mistake. It's better to just sell and be done with it. A range of value might be best. "Probably worth about this much, but sell it for less if it's easier" I think would be the best approach. I don't want to burden anyone because of my obsession with stamps.

And, again, selling off (or giving away) parts of your collection before it's too late in life is an excellent approach. Keeping a smaller collection to work on in your last years can be just about as much fun as an enormous collection. Or take up a new hobby. I'm thinking of sky-diving, myself.
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Edited by DrewM - 05/24/2021 04:04 am
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Posted 05/24/2021   08:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add funcitypapa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
STT Scott: if your daughter's eyes glaze over when you try to talk to you about your collection why would you plan for her to "inherit" it? Why not sell and let her inherit the proceeds directly without a middle man? Very few of us have heirs that are interested in the items themselves (pick the type of collectible), only the cash they might get for them.
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