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Estate planning with illiquid assets

When Florida residents create an estate plan, they may wonder what to do about so-called "illiquid" or "hard" assets such as art and jewelry. There may be complex issues around assessing their value as well as deciding who should get them and how.

It may have been a long time since the item was appraised, and values can change. An appraiser should be hired and should be accredited by one of the major organizations such as the International Society of Appraisers.

In some cases, multiple family members may want an asset while in other cases no one may be interested at all. In the latter situation, it might be best to sell the item and distribute the cash among heirs since their lack of interest in the asset may also mean they fail to recognize its value. If several family members want the item, it might be necessary to arrange a buyout for some people or to figure out how to distribute other assets more equitably. At certain times, assets such as artwork may be more valuable than others, so timing could be important for some sales. If the asset will be passed on, it might go directly to the heir or it might be placed in a trust.

An attorney might be able to explain other ways that trusts can be valuable in an estate plan. Trusts can be establish to helps support beneficiaries who have special needs without interfering with any government help the person might be receiving. A trust can give a trustee control over the assets, and this may be helpful in situations in which the beneficiary is young or likely to be irresponsible with the asset. Trusts and other elements of estate plans should be reviewed from time to time since laws, value of assets and families may change.

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