Valuing art and inheritance tax

For the purposes of inheritance tax, the fair value of a work of art is the price for which it would likely be sold around the date of death of the deceased artist. The sale prices of the artist’s other works can be used as reference when determining the fair value of a work of art.  

Works of art are usually considered personal property. Normally, personal property does not have to be itemised or listed in the estate inventory deed. Personal property can be recorded in the deed, for example, in the following way: “Some regular personal property – fair value EUR X”. Personal property is tax free up to EUR 4,000 (fair value). 

A work of art whose fair value is several thousands of euros is no longer considered personal property. These works are regarded as having such value that they must be stated separately in the estate inventory deed. Moreover, if an artist leaves a collection of works the total fair value of which is significant, the collection should be itemised in the estate inventory deed.

A statement on fair value by an independent art expert can usually be used as the basis for inheritance tax. Art dealers, auction houses and other companies in the art trade can assist in valuing works of art. Unfortunately, the Artists' Association of Finland cannot help you with art valuation.


Inheriting copyright

Copyright, including both economic and moral rights, is inherited in the same way as any other property. Copyright is subject to regulations governing marital rights to property, inheritance and wills. After the artist's death, the inheritors or other rights holders decide on the use of the artist's works and grant permissions for their use. In Finland and other EU countries, works are protected for the author’s entire life plus 70 years. When this period of protection is over, both economic and moral rights cease to exist and the work can be used freely without the permission of a rights holder.

Copyright is recorded in the estate inventory deed but does not need to be valuated because inheritance of copyright is not subject to inheritance tax. The inheritance of copyright must be distinguished from the potential value of physical works and the inheritance tax payable on them.

Kuvasto, which is a copyright society for artists working in the field of visual arts, pays copyright remunerations to artists’ estates. If the artist was a member of Kuvasto, the society should be notified of the artist’s death. If you want to become a client of Kuvasto as someone who owns rights to works of a deceased artist, you must provide Kuvasto with a copy of the relevant estate inventory deed and possible will to receive remunerations. For more information, please contact: Kuvasto (