Securing and Appraising Art Collections While Probate Is Open In Sonoma County

If you are about to engage in probate proceedings, you may want to reach out to a law firm in Sonoma County with experience preparing for and handling probate matters. At Johnston & Associates, our attorneys have experience in both litigating during probate, managing estates, and planning estates – we can walk you through the whole process.

If you are the administrator of an estate or have questions for the estate administrator concerning art collections, here is some information. Extensive (and expensive) art collections are difficult for estates to address because the value of art is fungible – people may disagree on how much value to attach to a particular piece or collection. Therefore, to preserve harmony among the beneficiaries, you should quickly secure and appraise the pieces.

Problems with art

Art, like many other items, has different means of measuring “value.” Some people attribute great value to a piece prepared by a loved one or connected to a specific memory – i.e., sentimental value. Then, there is the financial value which is determined by an appraiser (of course value of a particular piece could change from appraiser to appraiser – so make sure you select an appraiser who is thorough).

Secure and Appraise Art

Estate administrators are primarily concerned with the market value of art. So, in distributing the estate’s assets, the administrator should (1) identify and secure the art as soon as possible (sentimental value can drive people to take art before it is officially distributed through probate and (2) retain an appraiser to value the art.

When the art is secured, depending on the types, the administrator may need to hire security and move the art into a climate-controlled environment.


The second concern for administrators is to minimize the tax consequences for the beneficiaries. One of the best techniques to avoid taxes on beneficiaries is to create trusts. A law firm in Sonoma County can help discuss the options to minimize tax exposure. For example, a trust can distribute the art proceeds gradually, to reduce tax exposure.

Contact Our Sonoma County Law Firm

If you are preparing your estate, you may want to speak to a law firm in Sonoma County. Johnston & Associates can assist you in both preparing your estate and in assisting your loved ones through the probate process.