Amassing An Estate With Simple Means: One Couple’s Story

There is a common misconception that one only needs estate planning if one is a California silicon valley mogul or movie star earning millions each year. That simply is not the case, as the story of one unlikely couple will illustrate.

A husband and wife, postal worker and reference librarian respectively, lived in a modest one-bedroom apartment and began collecting art in the early 1970s. They collected art they liked, bought directly from the artist and did not bother following trends. Their philosophy was that if they liked it they would find a way to buy it. Over the years their art collection grew. They had no children and so their estate planning came to encompass a way to keep their art collection together.

By the time the husband retired the couple had accumulated 5,000 works of art including drawings, paintings and sculptures. In 1992 several truckloads of their artwork made the move to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. According to news sources, the National Gallery’s collection from the couple was a combination of purchase and gifts.

The husband told a reporter that, “We wanted to do something for the nation. The National Gallery doesn’t sell works they acquire. They’ll keep the collection together. And they don’t charge admission.”

This story is a reminder that a will or a trust or estate planning can be more than about money. It can be about leaving some sort of legacy for others. That is what this particular couple did. The husband died recently at age 89 and is survived by his wife.

Source: The Associated Press, “Art collector Herb Vogel dies at 89,” July 22, 2012

Source: The Washington Post, “Herbert Vogel, unlikely art collector and benefactor of the National Gallery, dies at 89,” Matt Schudel, July 22, 2012

Our Los Angeles law firm represents individuals with a full range of estate planning needs including wills, trusts and gifts such as those mentioned in this posting.