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November 20, 2014 | What to do with my mandolins when I'm gone

Cypress Creek Bluegrass Band, "You Can't Take It with You," Roy Jenkins

You Can't Take It with You
Ted Eschliman

It's important to include in any estate planning some kind of action or clause specifically on how to deal with musical instruments. A spouse or child distanced from or completely disengaged in your mandolin passion may have no idea of the worth of them, or even more uncomfortably, how little the value might be. It's a good idea to get an expert and trusted third party in place to handle evaluation in your departure, and just as importantly, distribution or sale of them. One of my most uncomfortable positions was having to tell a widow her husband's prized pro-model trumpet from the 50's just wasn't worth that much today. You'd be surprised at how often this happens, and how little spouses really know what these instruments might sell for.

In writing our own will, my wife and I included a clause that appointed a long-time trusted friend to deal with the sale of my mandolins. I didn't want either my wife or daughter to have to deal with this personally, or have to go looking for someone to handle it. We documented his name and outlined a 20% commission due on the sale of any of the instruments, with the remaining profits going to the estate. We thought it important to pay him for his time, energy, and expertise.

This would take the burden off the family, as well as assure maximum resale value. It's in a legal document, so there should be no question how this should be handled. You can't really transfer value on something that is as fluid as the selling market, but you can at least put a procedure in place that reduces the anguish of those who might grieve your absence.

Have one you want to pass on to a specific person, too? Absolutely, write that in. I have a violinist daughter that may want to play the mandolin someday, let alone treasure something to remember me by. Never hurts to include these instructions, too!

Shouldn't have to say it, but you can't be clear on your wishes when you're gone...

Posted by Ted at November 20, 2014 3:01 PM

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