Often the most serious obstacle to preservation of an important collection or library is the failure of its owner to make adequate provision before his death or incapacity. Then, when the owner dies, the collection goes to his heirs, who usually have little understanding of the collection’s importance or interest in its preservation. The collection, if it is preserved at all, is then broken up and sold off in pieces to individual purchasers, destroying its aggregate scholarly value. Even where one of the heirs does understand the value of the collection, the wish of other heirs to cash out their inheritance sometimes precludes consideration of the collection’s intellectual significance.
The best way to avoid this is, of course, to get the collection out of the owner’s estate before his death or incapacity. This can also help avoid estate and inheritance taxes. It can be done by giving the collection to a permanent non-profit institution, retaining a life interest so the owner can use and enjoy it during his life; or it can be done by giving the collection (or its remainder after the end of the life estate) to a trust for eventual disposition. The Foundation’s Collection Preservation Program offers two paths to this result: subsidized legal assistance for making the needed provisions, and the escrow path where the Foundation itself receives the collection temporarily and places it in a permanent institution later, outside the immediate pressure of events. As a third method, the Foundation has created a Model Remainder Deed and Trust Instrument to help owners of significant collections remove their collections from their estates.
The Model Remainder Deed and Trust Instrument is intended to focus the owner’s reasoning on the important issues, provide a place to begin and a pattern to follow in drafting the final document, and reduce dependence on counsel for original drafting. It may be used and adapted by anyone, and modified at will to suit individual circumstances. But it is only a model. It is not a substitute for individualized legal advice. No one should use a document of this kind without consulting with expert legal counsel licensed in the jurisdiction where the trust is to be established (usually but not always where the collection is held). A Foundation Legal Assistance Grant may be available to pay for this consultation.
The Model Remainder Deed and Trust Instrument is public domain document and may be copied and reproduced freely. For the full text, please look here.