Found: Leica Collection

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by schottmark, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. schottmark

    schottmark Member

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    I guess this is every 35mm photographer's dream. While cleaning out the house and storage garage of a recently passed relative, I came across a box of Leica equipment. To my knowledge, this relative was never a photographer except for family gatherings and things of that sort, but there it was.

    There are several bodies and lenses and numerous straps, cases, filters, etc.

    The sentimental part of me wants to hold onto everything, maybe get them CLAd, and hopefully use some of the equipment myself. But the other part of me feels I should keep perhaps one body and a couple lenses and send the rest along with the other possessions to the estate sale (which ultimately benefits the whole family).

    I guess I'm extending my "problem" (can I call it that?) to the rest of you all, as an extension of my conscience.

    What would you do?
     
  2. billbretz

    billbretz Member

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    Well, how or if you share the find is up to you, but I would not liquidate it via an "estate sale," where it's true value would likely not be realized.
     
  3. htimsdj

    htimsdj Advertiser Advertiser

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    Did others have the opportunity to "keep" anything before it went to the sale? If so, say this is what you want.
     
  4. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Wow, that's a pretty exciting find!

    Personally, I tend to think that tools should get used. If there's more there than you would realistically use yourself, maybe it makes sense to consider whether there are other relatives who would get some use from it.

    On the other hand, there are some Leica items whose collectible value seems clearly to exceed their "user" value, and if the cache includes any of those, it seems like it might make sense to sell them for the value to the family. (It does seem like an estate sale wouldn't be the best way to get that value out of them, though.)

    Ultimately, it's your family and your conscience, so it's hard for someone else to say anything very helpful, I guess. Any idea what the other relatives think about it all?

    -NT
     
  5. lns

    lns Member

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    What would I do? I'd say, "Look what I found everybody; these could be worth something." Then I'd have them appraised (this could be as easy as calling KEH for a wholesale value, or checking on ebay). If I wanted anything, I'd ask for that as part of my share of the estate.

    If you're asking, would I take some before telling anyone, no way. A Leica, or any other camera, isn't worth your integrity.

    -Laura
     
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

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    While no one will be getting rich from this, you can get a few hundred dollars and perhaps make the rest of the family's day a bit brighter.
     
  7. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    If it's reasonable for that to be your portion of the estate then claim it if you choose.
    Otherwise buy it from the estate for a fair price.
    Or, if there is gear you may not want, you could offer to market it to a better venue than the estate sale. If the estate is being auctioned, you could work out a minimum price with the auction co. to be sure it gets a good value.

    However, in the case of an auction, if it's promoted reasonably there may be no worries about getting a good price. The last estate auction I attended that featured camera gear, all of the camera lots sold for extraordinary prices. :sad:
     
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    As distasteful as I find it, I'm pretty sure that there's a legal obligation to forward everything on to the estate sale. However, there's nothing to prevent you from coming to an agreement with all other interested parties about the camera equipment.
     
  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Talk to the family. Work something out...lots of options.

    I'd see if I could work something out that my share of the eventual tally from the estate sale be deducted the appraised value of the Leica gear -- that way you 'pay' for it and it's all above board.
     
  10. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Estate law is complicated, and I for one know next to nothing about it. I hope all advice in this thread will be read with an implied "...assuming the lawyer says it's OK to do it that way"!

    That said, the two estates I've had some involvement with (one in California, the other in Pennsylvania) both had clear arrangements where certain people had first go at personal property before it went into the general estate. So at least in some jurisdictions it can be done.

    -NT
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I would hope so.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    It belongs to the estate. If there is a Will, it will set out most of the estate's obligations with respect to the property in the estate. You need legal advice from a lawyer with knowledge of estate law in the jurisdiction that applies.

    If you are in a jurisdiction that levies estate taxes, those taxes will most likely have to be paid on the value of the collection, unless it fits within a statutory exception.

    In most jurisdictions, all the beneficiaries can come to an agreement about selling an estate asset to anyone, including one of the beneficiaries. In addition, in most jurisdictions it is possible to agree to a beneficiary receiving items directly as part of their inheritance.

    That may not be easy or possible if any of the beneficiaries are not adults, or are not legally capable of consenting to such an agreement.

    In almost all cases, an independent appraisal of value from a knowledgeable and expert third party is important to protect the estate, the executor and the person buying/receiving the items. That appraisal can be used to determine how much insurance to place on the collection pending distribution or sale.

    A Leica collection may or may not fit within the definition of the phrase "personal effects" as it may be found in Wills.

    Talk to a lawyer.
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Well... from what I understand, you are not directly related to the deceased and you were only helping clean up. Then nothing you found belongs to you - that is, you have no right to assume you can claim possession of anything you find. But, I am assuming you are close enough to the family of the deceased and trusted enough to assist in clean up effort. Then the right thing to do is to explain to the family member of the deceased such as wife, explain what you found, how much it is worth, why you are interested, and ask if you may keep it and perhaps offer some money. It would be up to the immediate family member of the deceased to give you or sell you the equipment. Unless of course, the deceased himself/herself had left explicit instructions in form of a will. That equipment may already belong to someone by will.

    The way I see it, you don't have a dilemma. You are looking at something that is not yours. It may not even be that complicated. All it takes may be the family member to say, "keep it."

    I'm going with limited knowledge of your situation and I am certainly not a lawyer.
     
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  15. schottmark

    schottmark Member

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    All really great responses so far, so a big thank you to everyone!

    Since the most recent post is on the top of my head...I am related, so I don't expect relation (or non-) to be an issue.

    It seems that many personal possessions are, in fact, dealt with in the will. The Leica items are not explicitly dealt with. Apparently (from what I'm just learning), the Leicas were willed somewhat recently FROM a long-time neighbor/family friend TO my relative. Hence, why no one knew they really existed in the first place.

    In any case, the process continues, and a lawyer is involved. I'm sure updates will be forthcoming.

    My personal feelings: I first felt strongly towards the Leicas because my initial impression was that they belonged to my relative. Since it appears they belonged originally to a family friend, some of that sentimentality has worn off. But I still enjoy and pursue photography and certainly understand what it means to have found Leicas in particular, and I still don't want that to be lost on my family/the estate sale/estate sale buyers/etc. As long as there are no legal hurdles and other family members approve, my thoughts at this point are to get the equipment appraised and CLAd if necessary. Since the family friend clearly felt strongly that my grandfather in particular have them, I would not like to see them simply bid away to the highest bidder at a sale. I would prefer they go to people who can appreciate them and most of all take advantage of them and create pictures! Perhaps it is a bit idealistic of me, but so be it.

    Thanks again for everyone's responses so far. Much appreciated!
     
  16. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    In my experience of disposing of deceased persons' effects, it is often the case that relatives have no idea what to do with most of the items and unless they are particularly money-grabbing an expression of interest in something usually seems to be met with a response along the lines of "he'd have been glad to think someone would make use of it". If none of the other interested parties has any designs on the equipment, then I'd hope they'd be happy for you to take possession of the camera kit whilst they, perhaps, have the diamond earrings, original oil painting, etc. that maybe you don't want. If you all get along and can agree on the fate of the items some of you want, so much the better. I imagine the extent of any legal niceties will depend on the nature of any will (if one exists) but as a rule the involvement of the legal profession is best kept to a minimum!
    Steve
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That has been my experience too.

    Definitely!!


    Steve.
     
  18. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    I've acted as an executor many times in the course of my professional work. An executor (relative or not) cannot, ever, "help himself" to anything, unless specifically written in the will. You would be breaking the law (theft), not to mention any matters of conscience. Neither can a friend, relative, helper or anyone else.

    There are legitimate ways in which beneficiaries may agree that some item be taken by one of the them as part of their legacy, generally at an independent valuation. And their is nothing to prevent someone making an offer for a particular item....but, to protect everyone involved, I would never do that without an independent valuation. You may "know" that the Leica gear is worth
    more than the family may realise, but that is no excuse, legally or morally, to take any advantage for yourself.

    I was once the professional executor of an estate where the gentleman had left a very nice top-end Bolex cine camera and projector. I expressed my interest to his son and daughter...they said "have them if you'd like them". I insisted, however, on buying then from the estate at a valuation provided by a local photo dealer....solely because I had to be seen as independent and professional. Not worth doing things any other way.
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If there are only a few beneficiaries to the will and they all agree to one person having a particular item then there cannot be any problem (unless of course if the magnitude of the estate is such that it would need death duty tax paid on it).

    When my father died it was decided that I would have his camera collection, my two brothers would have his racing bicycles and wristwatch collection respectively and that my sister would have something else (I forget what it was now). There was no need or desire to have any of it valued, it was just assumed that this is what would happen.


    Steve.
     
  20. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Likewise when my other half's mother died. The four offspring got together over a few cups of tea and discussed who wanted what. It was all sorted amicably, with things that none of the beneficiaries wanted being offered to hangers-on (like me) followed by charity shops. I was offered (and accepted) a very nice Pentax S1a that my other half's father had bought new in Hong Kong and came with all the original paperwork, clip-on meter and a couple of Takumar lenses. The thing that no-one wanted was a three y.o. Peugeot 205 with only 7,000 miles on it. The rest of the family had much newer and fancier cars, so we ended up with it by default. Twenty years and nearly 300,000 miles later, we still have it and it's still going strong. In the snow of the last few days it's been a godsend - much better than my rear wheel drive Vauxhall!
    Steve
     
  21. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    That's fine....but the important thing was that it was sorted by agreement of all four beneficiaries.
    No one "helped themselves".
    (The OP could be read as though he was wanting to grab the rather nice Leica gear without accounting for its true value to the beneficiaries.....I'm quite sure that was not his intention, but, reading that way, is what is causing concern to other posters.)
     
  22. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Depending on where you live and the laws governing estates will probably determine whether tese items are included. Since they are not specifically mentioned in a will or estate plan, I'd suggest getting your attorney's advice. Families tend to squabble in terms of dividing assets not specifically addressed in a will or some other legal document - but not always. Obviously, the cost of CLA'ng equipment could be recovered as part of an estate sale price, However; on a personal note, I would not incur the cost of CLA'ng any equipment, especially if the cost become is borne by the estate prior to any sale. And no single individual family member should incur those costs unless there is consensus and agreement by all. Otherwise, it becomes a headache. Any assest would most likely be appraised at market value.

    Think of it like a kitchen remodel, or a paint job on a piece of real estate: Would you necessarily recover the costs of the remodel, or not?
     
  23. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Right on.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Depends on where you are. In my jurisdiction there is a tax due on everything, but it is only 1.4%, so for camera equipment it probably is relatively unimportant.

    Where the valuation does become important is when you run into the post-administration "squabbles" later - "what he got was worth more than what I received".

    From earlier comments, it appears that the "Steves" here don't really appreciate us estate lawyers. I feel so hurt :pouty:.

    I'd suggest that someone dealing with these sort of issues might just appreciate some of our advice, especially considering the sorts of things we have seen go wrong.
     
  25. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    Very true, as a professional myself I've spend many hours and days sorting out the messes which people who "thought it would be alright" have got themselves into,when a few questions and advice would have avoided problems and heartache.

    And, despite what some cynics might believe about lawyers and other professionals, many are happy to provide simple general advice at little or no cost, as a matter of goodwill. If someone chooses to ignore this, they can hardly complain when they later get a big bill for sorting out the problems which they have created. :sick:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2010
  26. sandholm

    sandholm Subscriber

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    Well, you have to work out the law and all that, but personal i think its a piety when a collection is broken of or sold. I really dont like when the relative just put up all the belonging of a person and just sell them of to the highest price. I would like to suggest that you try to keep the collection, the person/relative build it for a reason and I am sure that he/she would love to see it keep and used as he/she intended.

    cheers