Updated: Jan 26/08
Oct 12/21

Estate Planning and Advice for the Disposition of Collections
by: Joel Ruimy, a member of the North Toronto Stamp Club

Planning Ahead

Your stamp collection may mean the world to you and, if you’re lucky, there’s a child or grandchild in the family who will be happy to carry it on after your passing. But most of us know our heirs really aren’t interested. Do we really want to saddle them with a burden they know or care little about? A little advance work now will help ensure your precious stamps don’t fall into indifferent hands.

Here are 10 tips for sensible philatelic estate-planning

1. Consider Selling Now
Nobody knows your collection, and what it’s worth, better than you. Sadly, you also know that nobody in your family is interested in keeping it up after you’re gone. Why not try to dispose of it while you’re still around? You probably know best where to get a good price for those France semi-postals or Canada perfins.

2. Consider Donating Now
The RPSC RPSC Philatelic Research Foundation and the Vincent Graves Greene Foundation both accept donations, and each issues tax-deductible receipts. Even your local stamp club would be happy to receive a gift. Why not donate your stamps, now or in your will, so other collectors can enjoy them?

3. Tell the Truth
We’ve all heard the story about the man who spent thousands on his collection but told his wife he spent very little; when he died, she gave his stamps to the church bazaar. Then there’s the man who covered up his losses at the racetrack by saying the money went to stamps. He left a widow trying to turn a heap of worthless albums into a pension. Tell your heirs the truth. Then …

4. Talk to Your Heirs
Let your heirs know what you’ve got. However, you must be realistic: $30,000 catalogue value doesn’t necessarily mean $30,000 net worth. Let them know about the various options available for disposal, such as dealers, auction houses, eBay, etc. And tell them about the person below …

5. Appoint an Adviser
We all have our “stamp buddies,” fellow philatelists we like and trust and who really know our collection well. Designate one as a resource person that your heirs can consult about how to look after, or dispose of, your collection. But first, get the adviser’s permission.

6. Stay Organized
This may be the hardest thing to do after a lifetime of shoeboxes and stock books and loose covers. However, your loose stamps will never fetch the same high price as a properly organized collection—especially if you’ve got award-winning exhibition material. Put some order in your stuff today. You know you’ve been meaning to.

7. Keep an Inventory
You may know every stamp and every cover in your collection, but unless you leave a proper inventory, nobody else can possibly know what you’ve got. A good detailed inventory can help your heirs and their adviser approach potential buyers more confidently. You probably have an old inventory kicking around from when you bought stamp insurance. Update it now!

8. Take out the Trash
There may be a great number of classics in your collection. But if you’re like the rest of us, there is also plenty of packet material you acquired early and just can’t bear to part with. Why not give that away to a local school or kids’ stamp club? You’ll be uncluttering your holdings and making it easier to pay better attention to the serious material.

9. By the Book
You’ve probably accumulated a lot of catalogues, books, and other specialized literature along the way to help you with your stamps. This material also has value; consider organizing and inventorying it, as you would your stamps, to ensure it can be appropriately sold or donated.

10. Take it with You
A non-collecting friend, on hearing of my passion for philately, suggested jokingly that I should put my stamps with me in the coffin. Quiet … I’m still thinking about it.

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