What is Considered a Special Asset?

by | Oct 23, 2023 | estate planning

Special Asset

In the world of estate planning, the term “special assets” encompasses a remarkably diverse range of possessions. These unique assets, often characterized by their distinctive value, present both opportunities and challenges when it comes to planning for their future. To gain a deeper understanding of special assets and their significance in estate planning, let’s explore various categories of special assets in more detail.

Collectibles and Antiques

Collectibles and antiques are a prominent category of special assets. They encompass items like rare coin collections, vintage cars, valuable artwork, and antique furniture. The challenge with these assets lies in their valuation. Determining the precise worth of a unique piece of art or a vintage automobile can be a complex process. Engaging the services of a professional appraiser is often necessary to ensure their proper valuation. Furthermore, these assets often hold sentimental value for both the owner and potential heirs, making their disposition a delicate matter.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) is an increasingly significant category of special assets in the digital age. It includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and royalties generated from creative works or inventions. Estate planning for IP assets requires careful consideration of licensing agreements, royalty streams, and future ownership. In some cases, establishing an intellectual property trust may be beneficial to protect these assets and ensure they continue to generate income for your heirs.

Digital Assets

Digital assets have gained prominence in recent years. They encompass cryptocurrencies, online businesses, domain names, and social media accounts with a significant following. Managing digital assets in estate planning involves not only safeguarding access but also addressing their value and the potential for income generation. Leaving clear instructions for accessing and managing these assets is essential.

Family-Owned Businesses

Family-owned businesses represent a special asset category that combines financial and sentimental value. The disposition of a family business requires careful succession planning to ensure its continued success and harmonious transition to the next generation. This often involves addressing issues related to management, ownership shares, and potential conflicts among heirs.


Sports memorabilia, historical documents, and personal collections fall into the category of memorabilia. These assets hold significant sentimental value, and their proper preservation is essential to maintain family history and traditions. Estate planning for memorabilia may involve designating a family curator or considering donation to a museum or institution.

Unique Real Estate

Certain real estate properties qualify as special assets due to their distinctive features. This might include historical significance, unconventional use, or unique architectural design. Managing these properties involves addressing their maintenance, potential for income generation, and any legal restrictions on their use.

Air Rights and Mineral Rights

Air rights, which pertain to the use and development of space above a piece of real estate, and mineral rights, which involve the ownership of subsurface resources like oil, gas, or minerals, represent specialized real property interests. Estate planning for these rights necessitates clear delineation of ownership, management, and potential royalties.

The Significance of Special Assets in Estate Planning

Special assets are not only valuable but also often come with distinctive challenges and opportunities in estate planning. Recognizing their significance, both financially and sentimentally, is crucial for creating a comprehensive estate plan. Here are some key considerations:

Valuation: Special assets frequently require professional appraisal or valuation to determine their worth accurately. This is particularly important for tax purposes and equitable distribution among heirs.

Sentimental Value: Many special assets hold sentimental value, making their preservation and disposition a matter of deep emotional significance for both the owner and heirs.

Tax Implications: Special assets may have unique tax consequences, particularly when they have appreciated significantly in value. Understanding the tax implications and planning accordingly is essential.

Ownership Transition: Certain special assets, like family-owned businesses or real estate properties, necessitate careful planning for the transition of ownership or management to the next generation.

Legal Protections: Intellectual property and other unique assets often require specific legal protections and licensing agreements to safeguard their value and use.

Digital Estate Planning: In the digital age, ensuring access to and management of digital assets is increasingly critical. This includes safeguarding cryptocurrencies and online businesses.

Documentation: Keeping comprehensive records and documentation for special assets is essential for both valuation and future management.

Incorporating Special Assets into Your Estate Plan

To ensure your special assets are handled according to your wishes, it’s essential to incorporate them into your estate plan effectively:

Inventory Your Special Assets: Start by creating a comprehensive inventory of all your special assets. This should include detailed descriptions, appraisals, and any relevant documentation.

Consider the Future: Think about who you want to inherit or manage these assets in the future. Consider the unique needs and desires of your heirs.

Create Clear Instructions: In your estate planning documents, provide clear instructions for the distribution and management of special assets. Be specific about your intentions and any conditions you want to impose.

Review and Update Regularly: Estate planning is not a one-time task. Regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in the value or ownership of your special assets, as well as changes in your personal circumstances.

Engage Professionals: Consult with estate planning attorneys, financial advisors, and appraisers who have experience dealing with special assets. They can help you navigate the complexities involved.

Special assets in estate planning represent a diverse array of possessions, each with its unique value and challenges. Recognizing the significance of these assets, both financially and sentimentally, is the first step in creating a comprehensive estate plan. 

Schedule a Consultation with a Professional Estate Planning Attorney

Your special assets, whether they hold emotional significance for your family or represent a significant portion of your estate’s value, deserve meticulous planning. With our guidance, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that recognizes the unique nature of these assets, preserves their worth, and provides peace of mind for both you and your heirs.

Contact Galanti and Copenhaver today, and let us help you craft an estate plan that honors the significance of your special assets and secures your legacy for generations to come.