Estate planning for complicated financial instruments and business interests is often tricky at best. However, planning for the things people are often passionate about can be the most complicated part of estate planning.
When some people think about investments they think about traditional assets. The kind of assets in which you invest depends on the hoped for return you expect (and the risks you are willing to assume). Securities and real estate are two common assets familiar to most people.
However, there are other people who also think in terms of "tangible items of personal property" when thinking about investments. For example, these people invest in art, wine, collectible toys, vintage cars and much more. In the sense that these things can be sold later for profit, they can be seen as investments.
On the other hand, there is almost always more involved when people make uncommon investments, which is why they are sometimes referred to as "passion assets." Those who invest in these assets have an emotional attachment to the objects themselves beyond their pure investment value.
Investopedia, in a recent article entitled "How to Handle Passion Assets in an Estate Plan," discussed how planning for these passion assets can be problematic. One key problem is determining whether heirs want to keep the items or want them to be sold. The answer to that question can make different ways of holding the assets better than others. For example, if heirs want to sell a passion asset, then holding it in an irrevocable trust can create a substantial capital gains tax liability. Alternatively, holding title directly can avoid capital gains taxes but can create estate tax issues if heirs do not also inherit enough liquid assets to pay the tax.
If you have invested in any passion assets, it is important that you consult with an estate planning attorney about the impact on your estate plan. If you have not yet completed your plan, please contact my office to schedule an initial consultation.
Reference: Investopedia (Dec. 17, 2015) "How to Handle Passion Assets in an Estate Plan"