Spiro J. Verras Blog

Friday, December 21, 2018

Estate Planning for Your Illiquid Assets

What is the best way to pass down my valuable hard assets like antiques, jewelry, or art?

Some assets are easier to include in your estate plan than others.  Liquid assets like cash, stocks, and bonds can fairly easily be placed in a trust for distribution upon your death or equally split among children or grandchildren in your will.  So-called “hard” or illiquid assets, or those which are not easy to liquefy or set a value to, can be far more difficult to distribute. Hard assets could potentially include artwork, antiques, property, or jewelry.  These assets may be of unknown value and may not be included in an inventory list of one’s assets. However, some hard assets can be quite monetarily valuable and even priceless to the owner. As such, it is critical that your priceless items be specifically included in your Florida estate plan.

Create an Inventory and Determine What It Is Worth

Part of estate planning involves creating an inventory of all of your property.  Be sure you include your hard assets within this inventory. Do not overlook family heirlooms, jewelry, or furniture.  Along with a list of your property, you will also need to assign it a value, regardless of whether you want the assets to be sold upon your death or passed to a named recipient.  You will need to find an experienced appraiser familiar with the relevant assets. Be sure to update the appraisal as your collection grows.

Decide Who Should Receive Your Hard Assets

Many hard assets carry an emotional and sentimental value that may far exceed their monetary value.  The owners of family heirlooms, antiques, and passed down jewelry will likely want to ensure these priceless assets go to an heir that will appreciate and treasure them.  If multiple heirs want to keep these assets, you will need to decide whether you want to divide the assets and how you can do so. Alternatively, you may want to give the hard assets to the heir that you know will keep and treasure them, while providing the other heirs with alternative assets.

You have options when it comes to deciding how to pass down your illiquid assets.  At times, the best option will be to allow the heir to inherit the asset itself through your will.  These assets will generally be subject to minimal capital gains taxes. Alternatively, you might wish to place ownership of these assets in a trust, which will allow them to pass without the need for probate.  Contact an estate planning attorney for more information on how to plan for the transfer of your illiquid assets after your death.

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