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Inheriting a Classic: When Books Are Valuable

Many people tend to overlook books as potential assets. And even if you bring a rare book to a general antiques dealer or estate appraiser, they often are not qualified to give specialized book appraisals. This can be a mistake: The simple fact is, books can be worth money.

So, you inherited a book. Now what? Before you head off to the local library to donate your literature, make sure you do some research on the value of the gift.

People collect all sorts of items during their lives. Most of these items have little value other than sentimental value. Some items, however, are extremely valuable. Things such as jewelry with rare gems, old coins, stamps, antiques and more can be worth a lot of money. When administering an estate, these items need to be appraised by experts. This is an important part of determining the overall assets of the estate.

A recent post at the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog, titled "Inheriting Old and Rare Books in an Estate," reminds people that books can also add value to the estate and may also need to be appraised by an expert.

It is easy to see why people often overlook books. If you have ever been to a typical second hand book store, you know that most used books are sold for no more than a dollar or two. Thus, most of the time, a random box of books found with a deceased's belongings is not going to have any real value. However, there is another market for books out there.

Many people collect old and rare books. These are often books published centuries ago or they are first editions of celebrated works. So while a collection of science fiction paperbacks is probably best donated to a local library, old leather bound volumes should probably be looked at by an expert as they might be valuable.

Books, of course, are not the only valuable items that are sometimes overlooked. The important thing to remember when administering an estate is this: if you are not sure whether or not something is valuable, seek out an expert who will know. Better yet, work with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure all aspects of the estate administration proceed according to Hoyle.

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