Life. Legacy. Law.
We can help you shape your legacy.

Artwork could be the cause of an estate dispute

Estate disputes happen for all manner of reasons. Sometimes, it’s just that the plan isn’t clear enough, and siblings can’t agree on what their parents really wanted. Other times, everyone is looking out for themselves and not working together. Still other times, sibling rivalries play into it as people feel pitted against one another from the beginning.

No matter how it happens, valuable assets are often at the center of the dispute. For many wealthy families, this means that artwork and even entire art collections lead to these contentious issues. Let’s look at two ways that this happens.

A proper valuation

One issue may be getting a valuation. If one person thinks that the art collection is worth over a million dollars and the other thinks that it’s a fraction of that, they may not agree on what constitutes a fair division of assets. If the estate plan isn’t specific about how this collection should get split up, a proper valuation plays a critical role. Remember that art prices also fluctuate, rising and falling within their own market. The original value of any one piece may be nowhere near the current value, for better or worse.

Sentimental value

Another potential issue is the sentimental value of specific pieces of artwork that adult siblings remember from their childhood. A piece may technically not be worth nearly as much as other parts of the collection, but siblings could end up fighting more over that piece because of its prominent role in their lives. A common example is when their parents had a low-value painting hanging over the mantel. It’s tied strongly to those memories of being a child in the family home, and they’ll both want to take the piece to hang in their own home. This desire can outweigh monetary concerns and make it difficult to divide art because the valuation holds less weight than the memories and sentimental value.

Complicated cases

Disputes like this are exceedingly complicated. If you get involved in one, you must know what options you have.