By Robert L. Brommer
Recently, there have been articles in this publication which have pointed out the dangers of not leaving any instructions to family members regarding the disposition of your coin collection once you are no longer able to do so.
In both cases illustrated, the family simply took the collection to their bank, there to be converted into a sum total for all the years of effort which created the collection. Banks and bankers are not obligated either morally or ethically to tell the family any more than the current sum face value of that which was presented to them. More than likely, all of those coins went into the collection of a bank employee or officer of the bank.
My first encounter with this tragic outcome occurred when a middle-aged man who was a severe diabetic told me the story of his father’s many years of daily depositing his pocket change into the old (large) version of coffee cans.
His “collection” lined the outside walls of the enclosed back porch, all the way down both sides of the stairs to his basement, and all around the exterior walls of the basement. Each can was brim full of coins. Not a single soul could guess how much it was worth at face value, or current book value.
When he suggested they seek assistance, he was over-ruled by other family members who had no interest in the time it would take to determine how to correctly dispose of the “collection. Neither did they have any interest in seeking out someone who could evaluate the collection, or give them advice on how best to proceed. Thus, I want to share with other readers my plan on the disposition of my 60-plus years of collecting.
I am adding a codicil to my will which will give explicit instructions on how to proceed with determining the value and disposition of the coins. There will be instructions on whom to contact via their name and background in coin appraisal along with expected costs for the professional services. They can also turn to our attorney for advice for he is well versed and experienced in correctly disposing of assets that are difficult to value as individual pieces or the entire lot. Please note, if you do not have a last will and testament, you’re inviting disaster.
Funding will come from liquidation of other estate assets so the heirs will have no argument amongst them as the costs will be born out of my share of joint assets in our estate.
We all can recall instances when coins are sold at a pittance via estate auction when the inheritors are not familiar with the steps to be taken. Nor are they aware of the value of what they’re faced with since “value” is in the eyes of the beholder who does not have access to current worth on the open market. This is especially true among other collectors who would willingly make an offer were they to be aware of the opportunity.
Far too many times, someone has come up to me at a public auction and asked what a coin is worth, and my first response is, “you hauled them to the bank didn’t you“? Nary a single time has anyone said they were still in possession of the coin(s) in question. Your heirs shouldn’t become victim to this process.
I hope this will help you in your effort to see that your collection will either be preserved for the next generation in your family, or that they have received fair market value for their inheritance from you.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Robert L. Brommer.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to email@example.com.
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