Collections and Estate Planning, Part 4: Charitable Giving

How do you feel when you think about giving away or donating your collection? Does it fill you with excitement to pass along something that has brought you so much joy? Or are you worried that there’s nobody in your family who will truly appreciate it? Perhaps they may even sell it.

For many collectors, finding the right “home” for their collection when they’re no longer able to enjoy it is a priority. You may decide to give the collection to one or more family members, either when you’re alive or as part of your estate plan. Or perhaps you may choose to sell the collection to someone who will cherish and take care of it. But you also have a third viable option: donating your collection to charity while you’re alive and before it becomes part of your estate so that you can witness the positive impact of your generous gift.

For tax purposes, we believe gifting your collectibles to charity only makes sense if the property has appreciated significantly. This is the same rationale as gifting appreciated stocks from your investment portfolio.

Charitable gifting requirements for your collection

There are numerous requirements to qualify as a tax-deductible gift when you donate collectibles to charity. The gift of tangible property must satisfy the following criteria:1

  1. You are donating to a qualified 501(c)3 charitable organization. This is no different from any other charitable gift. We recommend asking for proof that the organization is a recognized charitable nonprofit.
  2. The items are qualified capital gains property. In general, this means that you have held the property for more than one year and did not create the property yourself. If your collection includes items you made, such as artwork, you would only be able to deduct the cost of materials. You also must ensure that you were not gifted the property by the artist, creator, etc.
  3. The receiving organization must make “related use” of the donation. Your gift must relate to the tax-exempt purposes of the charity to which it’s donated. In other words, the organization must use your donation to help fulfill its mission. For example, donating a piece of art to a museum for display—the key being that the piece fulfills the museum’s mission by virtue of being on display for visitors to enjoy. As you can imagine, the “related use” rule can be quite challenging if you are looking to donate a unique item.
  4. The donated property must have a qualified appraisal. The IRS requires a qualified appraisal if the gift of property is greater than $5,000. If the gift is greater than $20,000, then a copy of the signed appraisal must be included with the tax return filing.

If you can satisfy all of the above requirements, then gifting your collection to charity might be an option for you to consider. From my experience, the next step would be determining the most appropriate and efficient means of making your gift. For example, should you make the gift outright or utilize a charitable trust?

Your Corient Wealth Advisor can help determine the most effective way to make your desired charitable gift within the framework of your overall financial picture.

Other articles in this series:




Matt Mignon

Matt Mignon

Wealth Advisor

Matt is a Wealth Advisor in our Morristown, NJ, office. He is responsible for managing client relationships and advising families and individuals on financial planning, tax planning and investment management. Matt is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA). He served on legacy firm RegentAtlantic’s Financial Planning Committee and Neighborhood Nonprofits Group. He also serves on the Morris Museum Board of Trustees.

Matt has developed a specialty service to support all aspects of our clients’ collections—from building and cataloging to estate planning and inheriting.

Matt graduated from Colby College with a BA in Economics and a concentration in financial markets. Matt also holds a certificate in Financial Planning from Northwestern University.


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