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Passing on non-monetary property may be complicated

Passing on money and bonds to heirs may be relatively straight-forward. But, distribution of things like property, art and jewelry require additional estate planning. Determining an object's fair market value is important, regardless of whether the asset or profits from its sale are passed on. This is important because some assets may appreciate over time. Insurance coverage should be updated so that planning decisions are based upon accurate information.

A correct appraisal is essential because mispricing assets is risky. Art work, for example, should be appraised by someone certified by a recognized organization. Also, the value of an asset may depend on timing. Appraisers must know when a particular asset is more valuable than expected.

Deciding who to leave an asset to may be an emotional decision. This is especially true for family heirlooms, which may have emotional or sentimental value. An effective plan requires a candid discussion among the family that should not be delayed.

When multiple heirs have an interest or attachment to the same asset, the owner must determine how or if it can be equitably divided. If only some of the heirs have an interest, an equitable buyout plan may be developed that transfers ownership to the heirs who want that asset.

The best way to pass on an asset is to allow an heir to inherit it. These assets may also be placed into a trust, family partnership or limited liability corporation. This allows a formal transfer of ownership in a way that is efficient for taxes and decreases estate taxes.

If these options are unavailable, a person can sell the asset and pay the applicable taxes. The proceeds from the sale may then be distributed as a gift.

An attorney can help develop a plan that meets these needs. Lawyers can also draft wills and other documents that effectively distribute assets to heirs.

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