Silent key is a term of respect for a deceased amateur radio operator. The term originated with telegraph operators and continued with early wireless and then amateur radio operators. The term SK is used in telegraphy to indicate an end of transmission. Today, the term is commonly used within the wireless community as a sign of respect and condolence regardless of whether the deceased was actually a licensed amateur radio operator.
SARC has a silent key committee who can help with disposal of equipment. You can contact us at SilentKey@w5sc.org for more information on how SARC can help in your time of need.
SILENT KEY ESTATE LIQUIDATION
Estate planning shouldn’t be all about your wealth, like who gets your golf clubs or toolbox. The lucky person who inherits your classic Camaro or your Harley-Davidson 1940’s era Knucklehead. Your amateur radio station, regardless of size, has a financial investment to it that should not be denied to your family, friends, or institutions which you support. Keeping good records of your equipment, and the value of each and every item will expedite the disposal of your radio equipment while also decreasing the strain on your survivors. This is an unpleasant issue yet a part of life so you should make it as easy on your survivors as possible.
While this is a sensitive subject to most hams, it’s a fact of life, as the saying goes: no one gets out alive. This web page is meant to be a resource that amateur radio operators can use to establish an inventory of their radio equipment. In turn, this inventory can be used in making up a plan for the disposal of radio gear, including antennas, to be used by a ham’s survivors.
If you’ve ever managed or even helped a silent key’s survivors by selling off, or donating at times, a silent key’s radio gear estate, then you know how much work it can be. This can be cut down to a minimum by having both an inventory and game plan in place before there’s an absolute need for it.
ESTATE PLANNING TIPS
Estate planning shouldn’t be all about your wealth, who gets your golf clubs or toolbox. Your amateur radio station, regardless of size, has a financial investment to it that should not be denied to your family, friends, or institutions which you support. Keeping records of your equipment and the value of each and every item will expedite the disposal of your radio equipment while also decreasing the strain on your survivors.
ARRL’s QST magazine has included some excellent materials in the past that every amateur radio operator should read over and then consider putting a plan of their own in effect. Dino Papas, KL0S wrote an article for the September 2019 issue of QST that gives applicable information for the topic of liquidating an SK’s radio-related items. Dino, KL0S advises us to:
• Have a will.
• Have a document handy telling how to advise ARRL of your passing.
• In this same document, a link to the FCC site to cancel your license or reassign your callsign.
• Compile and maintain documentation of your equipment, its cost, and resale value.
Dino, KL0S also advises us to have a representative who will act as a buffer between your survivors and those interested in your radio equipment. Should you have one or more items you wish to donate to an individual, club, or other organization, then you should have a separate page in your documentation stating who gets what.
In closing Dino’s post about disposing of estate items:
• Have a condensed list of equipment for sale to be given to clubs for distribution.
• Try to get the family a good return on the sale of the equipment.
• Use good record keeping!
• Provide the proceeds promptly; don’t wait until everything is sold.
• Create a memorial from the family using some smaller items, the SK callsign badge, maybe an award or two. This will show the SK’s survivors how relevant Amateur Radio was to the SK.
SILENT KEY RESOURCES
On this page we have some resources for radio amateurs to use in cataloging their equipment and antennas. These PDF files are useful to catalog all the radio gear, antennas and almost anything else you choose to list.
These documents will be invaluable to your surviving family members and friends to insure they can properly dispose of your equipment according to your wishes.
Besides with the use of these forms you may want to document your equipment (antennas included) by taking digital pictures and/or videos of the equipment. Video files would be especially useful to demonstrate a radio while it is being operated.
So here are the forms available for your use in either a PDF or excel file.
RADIO GEAR INVENTORY:
BILL OF SALE: PDF for equipment bill of sale.
Tip from QST magazine(Nov 2019, pg 24) using color dots to indicate what is valuable and whats not. Mark equipment with 1/2″ green or red stick on dot (Avery 5051 and 5052). Green means “GO” – equipment marked as such can go to whoever wants it or can get recycled. RED means “STOP” – this equipment has value. You can also add a “M” written on dot indicating there is a manual available in file drawer
The purpose of the National Silent Key Archive™ is to collect and preserve photographs, life event narratives, and data artifacts of deceased Amateur Radio operators, and to make the Archive’s digital library available to anyone wishing to view its contents online.
Link to QRZ website for FCC contact information for notfication of passing.