Tag: personal effects
Many people make a will with careful thought and planning as to how their assets will be distributed. Usually, though, a will only disposes of valuable assets: money (of course), real estate, investments, etc. A person can never fully account for all their possessions, however. As a result, we often see Estate Trustees struggling to determine the best way to manage and distribute the various items that a person may leave behind. Estate sales can provide an effective way of handling those belongings.
An estate sale often (though not always) occurs following a person’s death where all of the possessions of that person are placed for public sale. Often, this can take place in the home of the person’s whose estate is being sold, though online auctions are also popular these days. Usually, professionals are engaged to take care of the estate sale. These professionals will assist in inventorying, pricing, and managing the sale. The goal for many is to maximize the value of the estate, an important consideration for Estate Trustees.
For family members and loved ones, however, an estate sale also offers a way of attending to the often overwhelming and potentially guilt-inducing taskof disposing of a the deceased’s belongings. For some, handing this task over to professionals can be immensely helpful. Consider, for example, this recent story out of Alberta of an estate sale of the assets of a woman who had amassed a spectacular collection of approximately 20,000 antiques. The deceased’s daughter was able to sift through her late mother’s collection, take items of sentimental value, and then hold an estate sale for the remaining thousands of items.
For those who are pondering what might happen totheir personal effects following their death, they might want to consider disposing of items before death. Many parents might naturally expect their children to take the parents’ belongings after death and make use of them As discussed in this New York Times article, however, the tradition of passing along heirlooms from generation to generation is losing popularity. Holding an estate sale long before death (say when moving homes) can allow a person to have some say in the disposition of assets while also generating funds for their own enjoyment.
For anyone interested in holding an estate sale, it is important to do your research and find a reputable company able to take on this important task.
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After being embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute, Audrey Hepburn’s sons appear to have settled the division of their late mother’s personal property.
By way of background, Audrey Hepburn left her estate in equal shares to her two sons. Her will, however, did not provide any directions as to how her personal belongings were to be distributed. Many of the items in dispute are famous memorabilia acquired throughout her lengthy acting career.
In Ontario, all property belonging to a deceased person who dies with a will immediately vests in his or her estate trustee. However, it is not entirely clear as to whether an estate trustee has the authority, absent specific direction from the testator, to distribute the personal effects of the deceased.
In Re Bucovetsky Estate,  O.J. No. 303 it was held that in specie distributions are not permitted in the absence of a specific direction in the will or unanimous consent of all beneficiaries. Accordingly, without specific authority or unanimous consent of all beneficiaries, an estate trustee should take care to avoid distributing personal items.
Some options that may be available to an estate trustee who is confronted with the difficulty of determining how to deal with the distribution of personal effects of a deceased person include:
- seeking directions from the court pursuant to section 60 of the Trustee Act, R.S.O. 1990 c T. 23; or
- selling and converting the personal items into cash in accordance with the testator’s will or by section 17 of the Estate Administration Act, S.O. 1990, c. E.22
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