Thursday, March 12, 2009

Estate and Legacy Planning for Artists

For those of us who are over 60, how we and our art will be remembered becomes increasingly important with each passing year. Our own demise is not a pleasant topic to consider, but we have to face the reality that at some point we are actually going to die - and when that occurs, what then will happen to our life's work? Its within our control if we make plans. Following are sites with great information on this subject that is written specifically to address the concerns and the needs of artists.

A Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning - A post to the blog about this valuable resource was made in September of 2007. However, changes in the applicable state and federal tax laws and the copyright law have made it necessary for them to publish an update to certain chapters in Part II and the Appendices.

2008 Supplement Update


Where There is a Will: Estate Planning for Artists - "This document looks at the range of options available to visual artists in dealing with their work during their lifetime, and information about making a will so that an artist's art work legacy is dealt with according to his/her wishes after death. "Where There's a Will" answers questions and gives guidance about when to seek expert advice and from whom."

NOTE: This is written for Australian artists, however a lot of the information is pertinent for artists living in other countries; for example, there is a section on why you should make an inventory of your artwork.

Leaving a Legacy: Donating Quilts to Museums - Andi Reynolds - she writes: "For many quilters and quilt collectors, quilting is about legacy, whether warm generational memories or mysterious auction finds. Because most quilters create their quilts for family, friends or charity, you might wonder how quilts end up in museums. Although donations from well-known collectors make the quilt world news, most museums build their collections as individual donors give one or two quilts to preserve their own legacies. Where do you come in?"

This article gives information about museum acquisition policies; how to make a donation; how the condition, significance and provenance of the quilt(s) will impact the museum's decision about accepting the donation; and legal and tax considerations.
NOTE: URL has changed. New URL is:

Leaving Your Artistic Legacy - Craig Lucas - This is his 2008 commencement address to graduates of the Boston University College of Fine Arts

Checklist for Planning Your Art Estate

Estate Planning For Artists: Let Professionals Manage the Art

SENIOR ARTISTS INITIATIVE - "The purpose of the Senior Artists Initiative is to assist senior artists in understanding the need for, and processes involved in, organizing their life's work, and to develop programs that provide recognition for senior artists." This organization has made available the following articles that deal specifically with the issues of what artists need to know about estate planning.

Estate Planning for Artists - "Estate planning should not be considered a process impossible to understand and not worth the time spent. Much can be achieved with a few hours of work. The result will be that the burden on the next generation will be greatly lessened and the taxes imposed at death may be substantially reduced."

What Will Happen to Your Art After You Die? - "Many things can happen to the art after the artist’s death, depending upon how well the artist has planned for this event."

Plan Ahead - "What can artists do when they are alive? Organize, Edit, and Disperse = PLAN"

Approaching Museums - "The following items may be of interest to the artist who wishes to interact with a museum with thoughts of placing works into its permanent collection, either through purchase, gift, or bequest."

Where there's a will, there may be a Monet: Artists can safeguard their legacy with savy estate planning - “When an artist dies, the inheritor has to either decide to throw it all away, or try to sell it – which is difficult – or give it to nonprofit organizations,”

What do Inheritors do with Art Work? - "Most artists are very resistant to sorting through their work in order to decide what to keep, what to throw away, what to give to institutions. This creates a dilemma after an artist’s death, as it leaves painful decisions about the distribution of the work to the spouses, family members, or executors. Failure to sort through and distribute works during an artist’s lifetime has resulted in work being stored for years; large numbers of the work going on the market and selling for very little; or the work just disintegrating in a damp, too hot or too cold basement or attic."

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