As you begin the estate-planning process, you may be fortunate enough to have some property that will pass to beneficiaries of your choice without going through probate. This could include liquid assets such as your deposit, investment, and retirement accounts. It may even include some real estate and other large assets, depending on how one titles them.
You may breathe a sigh of relief that your largest assets will be secure upon your death. However, there may be valuable, but less obvious assets that you may not have considered. Many people forget about big-ticket items on the walls of their homes or in their jewelry boxes, for example. If you don't make a plan for items like these, it could cause a great deal of consternation and contention among your surviving family members.
Factors that bear consideration
As you consider how to dispose of your property, you may need to answer some questions for yourself, including the following:
- Does anyone in your family want a particular asset? You may not realize that someone already wants a certain piece of property, art, or jewelry unless you ask, and doing so could eliminate conflicts in the future.
- How much is a particular asset worth? It may be worthwhile to have artwork, jewelry and similar assets appraised now, since it might help you decide to whom you should leave them.
- How should a particular heir or beneficiary receive certain assets? You may not want to directly leave someone an item for a variety of reasons, such as age, inability to handle money, or more.
The solutions to these problems could help you figure out what to do with your property, especially those with significant value either emotionally or financially. Family heirlooms may not be worth much in money, but it might be a good idea to assume that family members may fight over them after your death. Even if that doesn't happen, if you start from this assumption, you may be better motivated to take the time to deal with their disposition.
Finding a solution may mean having difficult conversations with your family members and obtaining appraisals for your property. If you don't know where to start, you may want to take advantage of the legal resources available to you here in Hamilton County. The more problems you solve in your estate-planning documents, the less hassle your loved ones will experience as they grieve your loss. In addition, if everyone knows the plan, you can all rest assured that everyone will receive the property they want.