Artistate Blog

Artistate Featured in SLAD Newsletter: How to plan a legacy?

July 12th, 2022

Artistate's Head of Business Development, Jessica Carlisle, writes on the importance of legacy planning, how to go about it and how Artistate can help.

Read the article in the Society of London Art Dealer's (SLAD) June Newsletter (members only), or below.

SLAD members will know more than most people what a mess some artist estates end up in. Warring family members, disorderly studios, missing artworks... often such situations can seriously mire the reputation of the artist and scupper the chances of a thriving legacy. Moreover, mismanaged estates create uncertainty and lack of trust, meaning a cold shoulder from the market.

More often than not, these situations are entirely avoidable. Advance planning provides clarity for those left behind and minimises the chance of disagreements. When artists die young or unexpectedly, intestacy is usually the result, which can cause delay or extra expense. But problems can arise even when an artist has made provisions for what should happen on their death. For instance, they may have received poor advice, or the measures taken may be incomplete or out-of-date.

Artistate was founded in late 2021 with the sole aim of helping artists
and those running artists’ estates get high-quality professional services at an affordable cost, and it has been growing traction as more and more artists (and more and more galleries) see the value
of planning a strategy for the future. A gallery that has worked with an artist for a long period of time is normally best placed to maintain and preserve that artist’s legacy - and usually wants to. But if nothing is put in writing during the artist’s lifetime, there is nothing to stop the heirs of an estate moving it elsewhere, and thus years of hard work are lost.

A surprising amount of legacy planning centres simply on good studio practice - keeping written records, cataloguing work, using well-drafted contracts - and artists who have reached a certain level of success often have these measures in place already. They will have learnt that their art practice
is no longer just a creative endeavour but also a business. Surprising as it may sound, there is no reason why that business should not continue, albeit in altered form, after the artist’s death.

No artist knows what the future holds for their oeuvre, but for the best chance of a lasting legacy artists need to give timely thought to the subject and take appropriate advice. An organised and efficiently run estate has infinitely more potential than one caught up in legal disputes and financial complications.

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