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Archive for August, 2012


Thursday, August 9th, 2012 by

     Last week, we wrote about a unique automobile that sparked a legal battle and ultimately fell into the wrong hands due to a lack of planning.  We encouraged everyone who owns any kind of special item to plan now to avoid expense and stress later. This is especially true for collectible items, such as art, coins, stamps, antiques, etc. 

     Early planning for collections is crucial due to tax and valuation issues.  When a collector passes away, the IRS wants to know how much his estate is worth, including collectibles.  Although it can be difficult to determine the value of a collection, it is an important consideration for both lifetime and estate planning.  If you have a good idea of what the IRS thinks your collectibles are worth, your estate planning attorney will be better able to advise you on estate and gift tax considerations.  Depending on your situation, you may need to consider gifting or selling your collection during your lifetime. 

     Of course, many collectibles hold sentimental value for their owners, making tax and market value concerns secondary to the desire to keep the collection in the family or intact.  When this is the case, timely planning is again the best solution.  As a first step, we recommend evaluating your family’s appreciation of your collection and their willingness to maintain it.    As with all other aspects of planning, knowing your family and sharing that knowledge with your lawyer will help you get the best plan possible.



Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 by

      We recently came across a case where a man owned an automobile that had a high value both sentimentally and monetarily.  However, like many clients we have seen over the years, he put off estate planning until he was on his death bed and then did only a simple will.  Shortly after the man’s death, his estranged son showed up with the title to the automobile dated one day before the man’s death and with an obviously forged signature.  After a long civil and criminal court battle and thousands of dollars of attorneys’ fees later, the second wife gave up and let the estranged son keep the automobile.

     Even though most of us don’t own historically significant automobiles, you probably do own at least one item that holds special meaning for you.  It may be a piece of jewelry that your grandfather bought your grandmother, an antique clock that has been in your family for centuries, or even a beanie baby collection.  Whether your special item is worth thousands of dollars or has only sentimental value, it is essential to plan so that it will end up in the right hands.

      The result in the automobile case is almost certainly not what the man would have wanted to happen to his prized possession.  And it would have been easy to avoid the stress and expense endured by his wife with proper estate planning.  We say it often but it is worth repeating: executing and maintaining an estate plan during your lifetime almost always costs less than doing nothing.

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