In some cases, making a bequest requires more consideration than simply writing “so-and-so gets X” into your will.
Transferring ownership of guns, for example, requires navigating an often-complicated mix of federal and state laws governing what kinds of firearms can be passed and who can legally receive them, Scroggin said. Failing to properly plan could mean that property isn’t passed as you intend, or even trigger legal consequences for your heirs. (Consider looking for an estate planner who specializes in such transfers, using so-called gun trusts and other tools.)
Illegal contraband can also raise complications, particularly in a taxable estate, he said.
“There’s a IRS [rule] that says even if an asset is only salable on the black market, it is still an asset and you have to report its fair market value,” said Scroggin.
Scroggin once had to determine the street value of a brick of marijuana a Georgia-based client found while cleaning out his deceased father’s closet. He included that asset on the estate tax return, and then turned the marijuana in to the police.