Safeguarding the Unconventional: Protecting Unique Estate Assets in Florida

Safeguarding the Unconventional: Protecting Unique Estate Assets in Florida

When we contemplate our estate plans, it’s natural to think about common assets like our home, bank accounts, and personal belongings. After all, these assets often form the bedrock of our financial security. Many of us have well-thought-out plans in place to ensure these assets are protected and distributed according to our wishes after we’re gone.

However, what about those assets that are not as conventional but hold significant value to us, whether financially or sentimentally? In the world of estate planning, it’s essential to consider the safeguarding and distribution of these unique assets as well. At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we can help you navigate estate planning for all types of assets, including those that are out of the ordinary.

What Are Unique Assets?

Unique assets encompass a wide range of possessions and interests that extend beyond the standard financial and personal items. These assets are often special due to their distinctive nature, value, or the complexity of planning needed for their protection. Understanding the various types of unique assets and how to manage them is a crucial aspect of comprehensive estate planning.

Digital Assets – What Is a Digital Asset?

In today’s digital age, digital assets have become increasingly valuable. These assets encompass online accounts, digital content, and electronic records. Think of social media accounts, cryptocurrency holdings, digital photos, and important documents stored in the cloud.

The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

Florida’s Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act empowers fiduciaries (such as personal representatives) to access digital information when necessary. However, the challenge lies in finding and managing these assets. A well-organized digital assets inventory is a crucial component of your estate plan.

Creating a Digital Assets Inventory

Your digital assets inventory should comprise a comprehensive list of your online presence and electronic records. Include details about your devices, online accounts, and the necessary login information. Ensure your inventory accounts for social media and email accounts, online financial assets, and any websites or domains you own.

Intellectual Property Assets – What Is an Intellectual Property Asset?

Intellectual property assets are intangible assets that often hold substantial value. These assets can include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Proper protection and planning are essential to preserve the value and legacy of intellectual property assets.

Intellectual Property Assets and How to Protect Them

  • Copyrights

Copyrights safeguard original works of authorship, from literary creations to visual arts, music, and computer software. These protections typically extend for the life of the author plus 70 years for works created after January 1, 1978.

Estate planning should account for the transfer of copyrights while preserving termination rights. Authors may not realize the full value of their copyrights during their lifetime. Copyright law grants authors the right to terminate existing copyright transfers or licenses, allowing them to negotiate better deals. This termination right is passed to statutory heirs upon the author’s death. Specific provisions in the creator’s will are crucial to maximize the future value of these works by protecting copyright termination rights.

Estate planning documents should address the disposition of both the physical work and the copyright itself. Without specific provisions for both aspects, the copyright and its potential future revenue may pass with the residuary estate.

  • Trademarks

Trademarks serve as source identifiers for goods or services, such as names, logos, or slogans. While federal trademark registration offers significant advantages, trademarks demand continued use to maintain their protection. When transferring trademarks to a trust, the trustee must maintain quality control over how they are used. A written trademark license agreement should be established between the trust and the entity using the marks.

  • Patents

Patent ownership is available for inventions, both utility and design patents. Utility patents protect newly-invented technology and last 20 years from filing, while design patents safeguard the ornamental aspects of objects for 15 years from issuance.

Transferring patents or patent applications to a trust is an efficient strategy, avoiding probate. Alternatively, patents can be directed through a will, but this approach necessitates probate proceedings. In this case, the will, along with the death certificate, must be filed and recorded with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Business Succession Planning – The Importance of Business Succession

If you are a business owner, you must plan for the succession of your business. Business succession planning ensures that your enterprise continues to thrive even after your passing.

Considerations for Business Succession Planning

Business succession planning involves critical considerations, such as identifying a suitable successor, addressing financial concerns, and creating a seamless transition plan. These considerations are essential to secure the future of your business.

Other Unique Assets and Corresponding Considerations 

Beyond digital assets, intellectual property, and businesses, unique assets can also include beloved animals and collections of significant value. If you have pets or livestock, considering their care and well-being in your estate plan is a compassionate act. Similarly, preserving the value and integrity of your valuable collections, such as art, antiques, or rare collectibles, requires special attention in your estate planning.

How to Protect Unique Estate Assets Through Estate Planning

Effective estate planning for unique assets involves identifying, organizing, and providing clear instructions for their management and distribution. This can include designating a responsible party to care for your pets, specifying the distribution of digital assets, and developing strategies to pass on your intellectual property.

Identify and Address Potential Issues

Before you finalize your estate plan for unique assets, it’s crucial to consider any possible problems linked to each asset. For instance, is the asset challenging to take care of, and will your heirs have the necessary resources to maintain it? Do your heirs truly grasp the asset’s value?

Once you’ve recognized these risks, you can develop a thorough strategy to deal with them and make sure your heirs are in sync with these solutions.

Prepare Backup Plans

Beneficiaries often want to honor a loved one’s wishes when they inherit assets. However, unique assets can pose challenges, as heirs may lack the financial means or expertise to manage these valuables. Sometimes, valuable assets end up being quickly sold for a fraction of their worth. Even with a well-thought-out and well-communicated plan, unexpected issues can arise, especially when dealing with expensive and unique assets, like a multimillion-dollar art collection. That’s where having a backup plan becomes crucial.

At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we understand that every client’s estate is unique. We specialize in tailoring estate plans that safeguard and manage all types of assets, ensuring that your legacy is preserved and distributed as you intend. 

Don’t leave your unique assets to chance. Contact us today at 772-266-5108 or fill out our Contact Form to create a comprehensive estate plan in Florida that addresses all your assets, no matter how distinctive they may be. 

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