Most Ohioans who engage in basic estate planning think that they will simply divide their assets evenly amongst their loved ones. While this can be done, the matter is not always as easy as it sounds. Whereas assets like bank accounts, stocks and bonds are easy to cash and divide accordingly, other pieces of property, such as art and family heirlooms, are more difficult to divide, if they are meant to be divided at all. These are sometimes referred to as hard assets.
There are some steps that an individual can take to better decide if he or she wants to divide a hard asset and, if so, how to do it. The first step is to get an appraisal of the asset so that its true worth is known. Since the value of many of these objects are tied to the ebb-and-flow of markets, the appraisal should be recent and it should be conducted by someone credible.
Once a hard asset is valued, then an individual can consider who want it. These pieces of property often carry enormous sentimental value, so there are usually multiple people who want to take ownership of them. If this is the case, an individual may have to create a buyout situation where the property is inherited by all the heirs with the option for an heir to buy out the other heirs to take ownership of the asset.
The last step is figuring out how to pass on a hard asset. While it can be left to heirs as described above with the potential for a buyout provision, another option is to leave the item to one heir and then taking that into account when dividing other assets. Another way to handle this issue is to simply sell the asset and divide the cash. This latter choice may create familial strife, though, depending on the sentimental value attached to the item.
Estate planning is complicated, especially when dealing with hard assets that many heirs want. By working with a skilled attorney who can help identify goals and develop legal strategies to reach those goals, an individual can rest assured that his estate is in good hands.