Assets That Estate Trust Attorneys Can Help Pass On


Life is unpredictable. Sometimes, you’ll have to seek legal steps and secure your family’s and other beneficiaries’ well-being. With the help of an estate trust attorney, you’re assured all your assets will be allocated according to your last wishes. An estate plan protects your assets and preserves their inherent value. Therefore, your estate trust attorney will play an important role in helping you draft the necessary estate documents, administer the listed assets, and advise you on ways to cut down federal and state inheritance taxes. Yet, there’s no certainty your property will be distributed as you originally planned. Trust disputes may arise. There’s also court probate if you pass away without a proper estate plan. Your attorney, however, is fit to handle any legal complications along the way. Here are some of the assets an estate trust attorney can help transfer to the right trust beneficiaries:

1. Vintage Guitars

Due to their rarity, musical style, and cultural significance, vintage guitars have increased in value over the years. Although some have more sentimental than monetary value, your attorney can help you catalog your vintage guitar collection. A catalog highlights important information about your vintage guitar collection and maximizes its value, especially if it has appreciated. Include photographs and bills of sale. Decide which trust beneficiary will most benefit from your vintage guitar collection.

An original vintage guitar for sale can fetch a high price when sold to the right buyer. So, make use of appraisals to evaluate your collection’s value. It’s prudent to pick an executor who shares your knowledge and interest in vintage guitars. If your beneficiary opts to sell your vintage guitar collection, it won’t be sold for a lower amount than its actual value.

Remember, tax laws apply to any assets and collectibles you own. If your vintage guitar collection’s value has increased, it will accrue a large taxable gain. But waiting until your death to transfer a high-value collection lowers the tax inheritance bill. An appraisal helps you decide when to transfer your guitar collection. Include the names of guitar dealers or auction services in your catalog to aid in the selling process.

2. Vehicles

Transfering your vehicles to your living trust is important. It gives your appointed trustee fewer legal issues when handling your assets. Although legal obligations differ from state to state, including your vehicles in your estate plan is a sure way to avoid court probate.

The easiest way to title your vehicle is to do it when purchasing it. All you have to do is show your car dealership your living trust identification card. It lets your dealership know how they’ll list the title in your living trust’s name.

Next, decide your trust beneficiary. Pick someone who’ll take full responsibility for your car. Your beneficiary should have a good driving record and account for your car’s upkeep. As the new owner, your beneficiary must comply with your car’s registration, insurance payments, and maintenance services like auto glass replacement. Transfer paperwork and car title transfer charges differ from state to state, so work with your estate trust attorney to secure the necessary documents and file them in court. Source relevant information from your intended beneficiary that will aid in legal identification and transferring your car ownership, like a driver’s license.

3. Pets

Pets have a special place in the family and are legally regarded as your property. So, it’s essential to include your pets in your estate plan. To ensure they’re in good hands and receiving proper care, you can take steps with the help of your estate trust attorney.

First, appoint someone as your pet’s caretaker. You can allocate money to your pet’s upkeep in your living trust. Alternatively, your attorney can help you come up with a pet trust.

Pet trusts are more structured in the legal sense. A pet trust states the amount of money you’ve left behind for your pet’s upkeep and how your pets should be taken care of. It also holds your chosen pet’s caretaker accountable and liable to legal actions in case they fail to meet your wishes as stated in your pet trust.

Pet trusts are expensive and require more legal follow-up. Sometimes, finding a willing caretaker for your pets is not easy. Conversely, you can access state programs to pass on your pet to a dependable caretaker. These programs, such as veterinary school programs and private animal sanctuaries, have special pet care services, including animal physical therapy.

4. Farm Equipment

There are several ways to transfer your farm equipment to your intended beneficiaries. But other factors will determine your succession plan. How many beneficiaries do you have? How many are farmers and non-farmers? If there are multiple beneficiaries with similar interests in farming, would they be willing to join efforts?

There’s much to consider, particularly if you’re a farming family. However, every transfer method has different financial and income tax results and will require your estate attorney‘s help. In an outright sale, for example, the beneficiary will buy your farm equipment and pay the full purchase amount you’ve agreed on.

It’s possibly difficult for the beneficiary to generate the money upfront. So, an installment sale is the next best option. Also, you can transfer your farm equipment gradually. As each piece of equipment is transferred, the beneficiary becomes accountable for equipment repair, insurance, and all costs associated with ownership. During the transfer of ownership, it’s important to appraise each piece of equipment to determine its value and tax liability. Consider hiring a farm machinery auctioneer or reputable machinery dealers like John Deere Services for a detailed appraisal of your farm equipment.

5. Residential Property

Residential property listed in your assets likely amounts to considerable money. Considering the estate tax bills that could accrue over time, passing your residential property to your beneficiaries is hardly a straightforward process. You need the professional guidance of your estate attorney. Discuss how you want your property to be handled. Will the beneficiary live in the home, sell or use it for investment purposes? If you have several beneficiaries, list them as co-owners of your residential property.

Your attorney may advise you to include a revocable trust in your estate plan. A revocable trust transfers control of your residential property to a trustee. It’s a private and secure way to ensure your property will be allocated to the intended beneficiaries after your death.

A revocable trust helps beneficiaries avoid expensive and lengthy court probate processes. It’s ideal when you own residential property across different states, like a vacation or luxury home. Likewise, move your residential property outside your estate plan using a Qualified Personal Residence Trust or QRPT. A QRPT helps you reduce state estate tax bills

6. Vacant Land

Aside from residential property, any vacant land under your possession is a vital part of your real estate and must be added to your estate plan. With the help of your estate trust attorney, draft a land trust, which is a living trust with the sole aim of housing all your real estate assets. Regarding the legal obligations tied with undeveloped land, your bank is usually a suitable candidate for an appointed trustee. As a trustee, your bank can manage activities on your behalf, such as brush clearing and creating room for real estate development. You can also set up your land trust as ‘self-settled,’ implying you are not only the grantor but also the true beneficiary. It prevents any land trust disputes while you’re still alive.

Land trusts are revocable, which gives you full authority as grantor to amend, restate, or revoke any stated agreements. All vacant land listed in your land trust is immediately transferred to your intended beneficiaries when you pass away. Land trusts differ from other types of trusts. The trustee, in this case, must manage your vacant land according to your wishes because you’re both the grantor and beneficiary. On the other hand, other trusts give the beneficiary little or no control, as the trustee fulfills the grantor’s wishes according to the stated agreement in the trust. Anonymity is the biggest advantage of transfering vacant land to a land trust. Because your vacant land will be titled under the name of your trust on all public records, it’ll be difficult to identify you as the actual owner. It’s highly beneficial and deters anyone from suing you.

7. Stocks

Has your estate attorney briefed you on what’ll happen to your stocks after you pass on? If you’re an investor in the stock market, you’ve likely retained high-value stocks for a while. Because stocks appreciate over time, they are a significant investment for your trust beneficiaries.

You’re possibly considering how your intended beneficiaries can reap the financial rewards through the transfer of ownership. Transferring your stock can have different approaches, depending on how you design your estate plan. If you wish to transfer your stock to your intended beneficiary through a will, they’ll be subject to court probate for legal approval.

If you leave detailed instructions using a living trust, your stocks won’t have to go through court. Generally, most states allow securities such as stocks to be registered through a ‘Transfer On Death’ designation, or TOD. A TOD ensures any stocks you own and are included in your estate plan are transferred to your intended beneficiary upon your demise.

8. Antique Draperies

Whether it’s velvet, silk, or damask, the luxurious and expensive materials used to design drapes make them an ideal option for replacement window treatment. Antique draperies are notable for their craftsmanship and value, so any you own is a prized possession and should be transferred to your living trust. Like all items in your estate plan, appraising your antique draperies is important. Appraisals inform you, your executor, trustee, and intended beneficiaries of a clear value estimate. It’s, therefore, crucial to enlist the professional services of an appraiser knowledgeable of antique fabrics.

Assessing the value of your antique draperies does more than determine its actual worth. You could incur tax penalties if you undervalue or overvalue an antique item listed in your trust that happens to go through court probate. It’s one of the main reasons you need a solid estate plan.

9. Sports Cars

Sports cars are fast, sleek, and valuable. However, owning a sports car has a negative cash flow. Although your sports car may increase in value until you pass away, it still incurs insurance and storage costs, routine maintenance like oil checks, and engine and brake service. You, therefore, have to consult your trust attorney and decide the appropriate beneficiaries for your sports car. Will they be able to keep it in their possession or sell it? Once you’ve transferred your sports car to your trust, pick an executor knowledgeable in automobiles and their market value.

Include the documents covering your sports car ownership in your estate plan, such as paperwork for car purchase, receipts for car parts, and any restoration done. If your sports car’s value has appreciated, passing it on to your intended beneficiary is recommended. The beneficiary will inherit the car at its currently appreciated value and won’t owe the state any taxes if they decide to sell it for this amount.

10. Commercial Property

A well-laid-out estate plan ensures your death doesn’t affect your business’s interests. Regarding commercial property, consider how business assets under your name will be administered. Your estate plan should also guarantee the continuity of your business operations.

Your commercial property’s investments are often tied with several entities and possibly involve unrelated business partners, lenders, different financial planning, personal interests, and outside management. There are also outsourcing services like those of a concrete contracting company to design, build, and maintain commercial premises.

There are taxes to consider as well. You, therefore, have to figure out how all these variables influence the transfer of your business assets to your trust beneficiaries. Your estate attorney may advise you on several options. Liquidating your assets can help secure finances crucial to supporting your trust beneficiaries.

When the legal system exercises much control over the estate allocation, hiring an estate trust attorney and having a solid estate plan in place is important. From divorce to life-threatening medical conditions and sudden death, it could positively or negatively impact those you leave behind. It’s not easy to think about the end of your life. Still, preserving the continuity of your personal and business relations is necessary. Therefore, plan to ensure your assets are protected and allocated according to your last wishes.

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