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When your estate contains complex assets

One reason why many people postpone making an estate plan is that it often involves many complex components. Few Texas families are fortunate enough to have all their members getting along, and creating an estate plan may mean taking into consideration the special circumstances or needs of more than one person in your family.

However, another concern you may have in addition to dealing with complex people is dealing with complex assets. You may have a plan in place for your business, beneficiaries named on your accounts and a strategy for evenly dividing your cash, but have you considered how you will handle your jewelry, art, real estate and other complicated items?

Inventory and appraisal

The first question you may have to answer is "What do you have?" Creating an estate plan includes having a comprehensive inventory of your estate, preferably with current assessments of the values of the objects the estate includes. Not many families have such an inventory, and even if you created one for insurance purposes, the values listed may be considerably out of date.

Appraising your art, silver collection, jewelry or classic vehicles is something for which you should seek professional advice from a certified appraiser, not something to do through an online search. You do not want to stir up rivalries among your heirs by leaving your assets with questionable valuations.

Sparing your loved ones trouble

Keeping your estate plan a secret is another way to increase the possibility of contention among your heirs. It may help to learn whether anyone has a special attachment to a certain piece of art or if someone has any interest in inheriting the vacation home. These conversations can be of great help in determining whether to leave the assets outright to your heirs or to instruct your executor to liquidate them.

Selling certain assets such as art for the best price takes skill and experience, so you will want to prepare for that contingency in your plans. Additionally, with any inheritance, there are tax ramifications to consider, and often the use of a trust can alleviate some of that burden for your heirs. Dealing with such matters can be difficult and potentially emotional, but taking these steps now may save turmoil for your loved ones in the future.

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