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Here we tackle the very important but often avoided topic of what happens to your stamp collection after you are gone.


Stephanie Bradley, Associate at Ramsdens, tells us how she became involved in the philatelic market and how she helps stamp collectors with specialised collector wills. Stephanie has worked for the firm for nearly 20 years, specialising in Wills, Probate, Estates and related legal work. Stephanie is a regular at York Stamp Fair and other philatelic events throughout the year.


How did you become involved in looking after collectors and collector wills?

I have worked at Ramsdens Solicitors for 19 years and worked alongside the late Mike Roberts, who was a keen and very experienced philatelist. Mike spotted a gap in the market for collectors many years ago and with his professional career as a will writing solicitor found a rather clever way of fusing together his work and hobby. This led to participating in stamps fairs and society meetings, as well as the York Stamp Fair to promote this unique service to stamp collectors. I attended many events and shows with Mike over the years, including London 2010 and 2020 (2022), and over the years have built up a very good knowledge and understanding of the philatelic world. This has led to developing relationships with collectors and related organisations in the philatelic industry, and I can now proudly offer the same services as Mike and continue this legacy in loving memory to him.


Why should collectors think about what happens to their collections after they are gone?

We don’t like to think about leaving our loved ones behind or what would happen upon our death. I appreciate these things are difficult to talk about sometimes and can often feel overwhelming and upsetting. However, as a collector you will no doubt have devoted a significant amount of time creating a valuable and meaningful collection to you, and without any expressed wishes to your loved ones, they may be lost in what to do when confronted with the unfamiliar world of philately! This means they could donate your collection, or even sell them for pennies on the dollar, when the collection holds a much more significant sentimental and/or monetary value.

My top tips for collectors would be to create specific wishes on what you would like to happen to the collection you have accumulated. Do you want them to go to a museum for preservation, or to your local society to be shared among fellow collectors. Do you want them to be sold and the proceeds distributed to certain people in your estate? Should the sale be a local auction or with a larger auction house that has access to the international market? You can choose more than one path, but it should be clear in your will and in the instructions you leave behind.

I would also encourage all collectors to have a detailed schedule of their collection. You may know what you have, however, would your loved ones? This could include any specific detail of the items that your family would need to know, for example is it one of a kind, its rarity, any expert certificates or special features.

The saddest situations always involve a collection left to an heir who knows little about the hobby and has even less interest in continuing with the collection, so any instructions you can leave behind will make lighter work for your loved ones. Do not let your passion and all your hard work go to waste!


What can collectors do to ensure their collections are valued correctly once they are gone?

If you would like your collection to be sold upon death, I would recommend speaking to a dealer or auction house that may be able to facilitate that sale for your loved ones. There is a vast number of auction houses who can offer a high-level of service, and your family may not be familiar with them or know how to contact them after you’re gone, so again it would be useful to leave this information behind. All of which can be included within your will.


Does it cost a lot to add something about a collection into a will?

To include specific instructions about your stamp collection in a will does not inflate the cost of preparing and finalising a will. On average, a will of this nature would cost around £300-plus, excluding VAT, depending upon other instructions on your remaining estate. However, a personalised quote can be provided to you upon receiving instructions.


How would a solicitor know about the value of stamps? How is the monetary value of a collection calculated?

As solicitors, we do not present ourselves as valuers of philatelic collections and rely on specialists to help with the valuation of collections for probate purposes. We do, however, pride ourselves on the relationships we have built with reputable auctioneers over the years and have a good knowledge and understanding as to who may be best placed to value a certain area and would draw upon their field of expertise to help and assist in this regard.


What other advice would you give to collectors wanting to plan for the future?

Collections can take years to create, sometimes even a lifetime. Whilst it’s never fun to think about the future and growing old, some good organisation and pre-planning can preserve the integrity of your collection for years to come. Also, don’t just think about what would happen upon your death. If a collector becomes mentally incapacitated, then their collection may need to be sold to raise funds for any care needs. The need to sell your collection could be for many reasons, and if I learnt one thing from Mike Roberts, it was that collectors should always have the pleasure and excitement of selling their own collections, after all, it’s their pride and joy!


The next step?

Ramsdens Solicitors would be more than happy to help you plan for the future and can offer a free no obligation consultation to discuss these topics further. We have numerous offices in and around Yorkshire, and I regularly attend stamp shows where we could arrange to meet, or even offer you a home visit at no additional cost.


If you would like advice on writing your Will, please contact our experienced Private Client team today. Call us on 01484 821500 or email


The above article is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any part of the information given.

Article credit: Stamp Collector, June 2024