Author: Leah Trowbridge, Estate Planning Attorney, The McIntosh Law Firm, P.C.
The short answer, in classic legal speak, is, well, IT DEPENDS. Having a special, or especially valuable, piece of tangible personal property*, such as a collectible car, to protect and enjoy during your lifetime, and perhaps pass along to loved ones, can be both an exciting part of your legacy and a challenging part of your estate planning.
There are many issues to consider. How might you avoid or minimize probate, the DMV line, or liability from an accident? How is the car titled? Is it, or should it, be in a trust? Is it, or should it, be in one spouse’s name or both? How is the fair market value and cost basis of the car to be proved for purposes of probate and future capital gains? If the car is left to a long-distance beneficiary, who will pay the cost of transport?
Working through these issues sooner than later can free you to better enjoy your collectible car today knowing that you have done what you can to protect and guide your family’s future interest and enjoyment of that extraordinary piece of property.
A qualified and thoughtful Estate Planning Attorney will ask the right questions to help you define and understand these issues based on your individual circumstances and provide you with options and advice so that you can arrive at the best plan for your family and your property.
Once you have gotten that estate plan up to speed, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride!
*Tangible personal property is defined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 105-164.3 as "personal property that may be seen, weighed, measured, felt, or touched or is in any manner perceptible to the senses. Typically, this definition excludes tangible property used primarily in a trade or business, and most Will documents explicitly exclude tangible personal property, like cash and gold bullion, which are owned solely for investment purposes. Intangible personal property includes stocks, bonds, and intellectual property like copyrights and patents.