When drafting a Will, think about the process to carry out those wishes

Here is a situation a client of mine encountered recently that I thought was worth sharing. The client gave me permission to quote her email verbatim. The parent had signed a Will some years ago leaving the estate equally to the 3 children. One provision said ” I direct that my 3 children obtain a joint appraisal of my coin collection. I then direct that the collection be sold to a non-relative, and the proceeds of sale be divided equally among my 3children per stirpes.” Now evidently the parent thought this was a very valuable “Collection” and didn’t want any of the 3 children to take possession of it. I didn’t draft that Will, so I don’t know what they were thinking.

Well here’s what happened. The client wrote to me and said” “I wanted to let you know that  I looked up each coin to see what their values were to make sure that we would get the best deal.  I have taken pictures of ALL 1,150 coins (over 3,000+ pictures), have inserted each  coin into a coin holder — cardboard square with clear plastic window, so it would be easier for the dealers to view each coin front and back  — have numbered them to coincide with the number that appears on the list with their info, and the coins have been placed in numerical order in two boxes.  So they are now ready to be appraised.   [my brother]  & I will be going to a coin show this weekend (Saturday) where there will be many coin collectors (which according to the ad in the paper, they offer free appraisals (not sure if this applies to estate collections) ). I have already talked to [my other sibling] about one place that I wanted to take the coins to (Waretown Coins & Stamps).  When I went there on Tuesday, I was told basically that this is not really a coin collection, but more of an “accumulation” of coins, because there isn’t really any rare coins or coins that have major value.  She told me that we would be very very lucky if we received $300 for the coins.  On that note I left with the coins.  That is why we are going to the Coin Show this weekend.  Once we get a few names of some reputable dealers, we’ll call [our sibling] to get his approval and then we will go from there. It was a lot of work, but I wanted to make sure there wasn’t a rare coin somewhere in between.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t.  I started working on this in July and just finished.”

Two months of this tedious stuff. This poor soul finally obtained a big $453 for her efforts. The moral of the story is that one person’s “Collection” may just be a bag full of loose change. In the Will, the “Collection” could have just been left to one individual, or it could have simply been included without specific mention in the general personal property that gets divided up by the Executor. The second moral? When writing a Will, think about the job you’re giving to your Executor!

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