Avoid Leaving These 12 Assets to Your Heirs


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Rawpixel Ltd / iStock.com

You want to leave your loved ones with assets that will enrich their lives. However, not all assets are created equal.

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Despite your best intentions, some of the assets you plan to bestow upon your heirs might be more of a headache. Whether they’re difficult to manage or potentially costly, you won’t be doing them any favors.

GOBankingRates spoke with financial advisors to find out what assets you don’t want to pass on. Here’s what they had to say.

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Tax-Deferred Accounts

You worked hard to save for retirement, so it makes sense that you want to leave any remaining balance in your accounts to your heirs.

“Tax brackets are key to building this proactive inheritance strategy,” said Chad W. Holmes, CFP, CPWA, founder and financial planner at Formula Wealth in Montgomery, Alabama. If you’re in a lower tax bracket than your children, he said it might make sense to advance IRA withdrawals over the period of a few years.

“By spreading out this taxable income over multiple years, they never have a spike in tax rates,” he said. “When they pay taxes on the tax-deferred assets, they’re able to put the money into an after-tax account where it can again be invested.”

Ultimately, he said this is the best way to ensure they get as much of your hard-earned money as possible.

“Now the higher tax bracket children will receive an asset that gets a step up in basis at death, essentially inheriting the funds with no built in gains or taxes,” he said.

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Health Savings Account

An HSA can be a good or bad investment to pass on, depending on who the heir is in relation to you. If you leave it to a spouse, they’ll be able to continue using the money for medical expenses with no taxes or penalties, said Pam Horack, CFP at Pathfinder Planning LLC of Lake Wylie, South Carolina.

“However, if you leave an HSA to your child, estate or other organization, it may be considered income in the year it is received,” she said. “They are not allowed to use the tax advantages for their own healthcare, and the income could inadvertently throw your heirs into a higher tax bracket.”

Real Estate Properties With High Maintenance Costs

In theory, leaving real estate to your heirs might seem like a good inheritance, but it depends on the property.

“Properties that require extensive upkeep, such as large estates or vacation homes, can burden heirs with ongoing expenses,” said Alex Doyle, CFP, wealth manager at Woodson Wealth Management in Rochester, New York. “Consider selling such properties or converting them into rental properties to generate income, or even donating them to a charitable organization.”

Illiquid Investments

“Investments in businesses, private equity or certain types of real estate can be illiquid, making it difficult for heirs to quickly access their value,” Doyle said. “If possible, consider diversifying the investment portfolio or gradually transitioning these assets into more liquid options before passing them on.”

This will make it easier for your heirs to manage, as you don’t want the investments to add stress into their lives.

Complex Financial Instruments

You might be a financial expert, but your heirs may not possess the same level of comprehension, making certain investments difficult to understand.

“Assets like complex derivatives or structured products might require specialized knowledge to manage effectively,” Doyle said. “Simplify the investment portfolio by selling or converting these assets into more straightforward investments that heirs can manage with ease.”

Collectibles With Limited Demand

They might be special to you, but there’s a good chance your heirs don’t actually want to take on your treasures.

“Collections of art, antiques or other collectibles can be difficult to sell and might not hold their value over time,” Doyle said. “To avoid burdening heirs with the task of selling these assets, consider selling or donating them during your lifetime or setting up a plan for their gradual sale.”

Businesses With No Succession Plan

If you’re passing on a family business, Doyle said to make sure to put a clear succession plan in place.

“Heirs might lack the necessary skills or interest to run the business,” he said. “Train potential successors or consider selling the business and distributing the proceeds among heirs.”

Highly Leveraged Assets

You want assets you pass down to make your heirs’ lives easier, not more complex.

“Assets with significant debt attached could put heirs in a precarious financial situation,” Doyle said.” Consider paying down the debt or using other assets to offset the liabilities before passing them on.”

Intellectual Property With Limited Commercial Potential

On the surface, this might seem like a possible gold mine, but your intellectual property might not be the best asset to pass on.

“Intellectual property like patents or trademarks might not generate the expected revenue or could require ongoing legal maintenance,” Doyle said. “If the potential benefits are limited, it might be wise to license or sell the IP before passing it on.”

Timeshares and Fractional Ownership

You love your timeshare, but Doyle noted that these assets often come with maintenance fees and scheduling conflicts.

“Heirs might not find them as appealing as the original owner did,” he said. “Consider selling or transferring ownership to someone who would appreciate and use them.”

Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets

Not everyone has a solid understanding of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, so Doyle advised thinking twice about leaving them to heirs.

“Digital assets can be challenging to manage and secure if heirs are not well-versed in blockchain technology,” he said. “Provide clear instructions on how to access and manage these assets or consider converting them to more traditional [investments].”

Uninsured or Underinsured Assets

You might own a potential goldmine, but if it isn’t properly insured, it could become a major liability to your heirs.

“If an asset has significant value but lacks proper insurance coverage, it could lead to financial loss for heirs in case of unforeseen events,” Doyle said. “Ensure adequate insurance coverage or consider selling the asset.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Avoid Leaving These 12 Assets to Your Heirs


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