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Finding Treasures ... Hiding in Your Own Space

I don't know what it is about summer ... but it seems like the perfect time to begin re-evaluating how valuable your valuables really are.

And whether you are downsizing, deaccessioning, or just simply changing your style ... wisdom dictates that the better advised you are on your treasures, the better your return.

Baby Boomers have been known to be master acquirers. Children of Baby Boomers sometimes are too. That finger is pointing my direction, by the way.

I have lots of treasures. And most of my treasures are treasures because they have meaning, stories, memories. And that makes them valuable. The trick is sorting our acquisitions into just that ... acquisitions that can be acquired by another and those too precious to let go of.

But if you're in the market to decommission ... Ashlea Ebeling has written an excellent article for Forbes Magazine entitled, "10 Tips for Downsizers With Too Much Stuff."

So before you get too happy, the following tips may save you time and money.

10 Tips In summary, her tips are these:

1. Accept that downsizing is tough.

The items we've spent a lifetime collecting are personal, they are part of us. It is very difficult to part with something of yourself.

2. Find trusted experts.

Have you ever watched the television program, "American Pickers?" Research your valuables online. Have an idea of what you have, what it's worth, and then call an expert before entering into sales negotiations. “Pickers will pick up things that could be of substantial value and the person who sold it had no idea,” warns Joy Berus, an art lawyer in Orange, Calif.

3. Call in an appraiser.

If you can't find the information you're seeking online or at the library, consider hiring a professional appraiser for an hourly fee. The fee would well be worthwhile in determining value for unknown treasures.

4. Be wary of family lore.

The article reminds readers that just because a family member believes something is valuable or old, doesn't mean it is. Do your research. Who knows? Sometimes "experts" get it wrong as well. It is delightful to research and find the truth turns out to be just as your ancestor described.

5. Don’t throw out items prematurely.

This is a big one for me. Sometimes we get carried away with the end result ... a clean garage or attic. What looks like "junk" to the uninitiated may actually be treasures. Take the time and the effort to research and learn about the items that have been preserved all these years. Your junk may send someone to college or finance retirement. Or, it may be too precious to liquidate. Hold on to heirlooms important to your family and yourself. Once gone, they are exceedingly difficult to replace.

6. Call in an auction house.

Auction houses will send out specialists that are qualified to evaluate households and large areas like garages, attics and barns. Their expertise may save you time and money in the long run.

7. Donate and deduct.

"Aside from the satisfaction of giving, you get a charitable deduction on your tax return—assuming you itemize. Note: You must list anything you donate worth $500 or more on Form 8283 attached to your 1040. If an item you donate is worth $5,000 or more, you need a qualified appraisal. If the item is valued at $20,000 or more, you need to attach the appraisal to your return."

8. Pass down heirlooms before you die.

"You can give away up to $13,000 a year to as many individuals as you’d like without eating into your lifetime exemption from federal gift tax. The $13,000 includes cash, stocks, or things: your jewelry, furniture, rare comic books, whatever."

9. Watch out for capital gains.

“When it comes to tangible personal property, that is everything that isn’t real estate, most people don’t know what the tax ramifications are,” says lawyer Joy Berus. “It’s a black hole.” If you sell personal property at a gain, you owe capital gains tax of 28%. If you can’t prove basis, the Internal Revenue Service assumes it’s zero. If you don’t report it, it’s fraud."

10. Remember the estate tax return.

"Under current law, on Schedule F of the Form 706 estate tax return, your executor has to list the value of your household goods (this includes jewelry, furs, silverware, books, statuary, vases, oriental rugs, and coin or stamp collections). Any item valued in excess of $3,000 or any collection valued in excess of $10,000 must be appraised and listed separately."

For details and additional information on these tips, visit Forbes Magazine.

My favorite link: 10 Treasures Hiding In Your Attic.

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