Sports Memorabilia Collections Need to be Part of Estate Planning

Aug 2012

Collecting sports cards and memorabilia is a hobby that has been popular for decades. And while not every collector is lucky enough to have an Al Kaline, Wilt Chamberlain, Johnny Unitas or Willie Mays rookie card in mint condition, people’s collections can be quite valuable, especially among Baby Boomers who started collecting in the 1950s and 60s.

If you are a collector of sports memorabilia, you need to factor that in to your current estate planning just as you would any other assets.

Although you may like to collect sports memorabilia, including sports cards, signed autographs, posters, pictures, and programs,, it is possible that your beneficiaries may not want to continue with the collection or retain the collection. Therefore, it is important to determine in your estate planning documents how to distribute sports memorabilia collections.

If you have established a revocable trust and you want to make a specific distribution or gift to a beneficiary of your sports memorabilia collection, it should be stated explicitly in the trust. Otherwise, it may be distributed among several beneficiaries. In addition, disputes or disagreements may occur, comparable to any personal items, if the revocable trust does not provide who is to receive personal assets.

If there is a specific distribution provided for in the trust, the beneficiary will receive the specified item. If there is no specific distribution, then the beneficiaries may either receive the sports memorabilia collection among themselves. In the alternative, the successor trustee may then sell the collection and the proceeds will then be split among the beneficiaries.

Depending on one’s circumstances, it should be stated in the revocable trust how the collector wants their collection to be distributed upon one’s death, in order to avoid disputes and to make certain your wishes are met with your assets.

After one dies, it is possible that they may owe an estate tax, which is a death tax, based upon the total value of all of the deceased’s assets. This would include a sports memorabilia collection. To determine the value of any collection, a reputable appraiser in that field will be needed to value the collection. Once you receive a written appraisal from the appraiser, a determination of the value of the collection has been obtained. In the event the deceased’s assets exceed the estate tax exemption, the collection would be included with all the other assets of the deceased to determine if an estate tax is owed. If the deceased’s assets exceed the estate tax exemption amount ($5,120,000 for 2012 and $1,000,000 for 2013) an estate tax return is required to be filed and estate tax may be owed.

The bottom line is while a sports card or memorabilia collection may have more sentimental value to you than other personal items, it is still an asset that must be dealt with properly in your estate plan to ensure that the collection is distributed to your heirs per your wishes.

If you have a sports memorabilia collection, or collect other items and want to include them in your estate plan, please give me a call at (248) 932-5200 to discuss your particular estate planning situation.


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