We have previously discussed that any property that you own can be left to your heirs in your estate plan. However, there are some limits to that basic principle. You cannot make property that is illegal to own part of your estate plan and expect that your heirs can inherit it. A recent case out of Philadelphia illustrates this exception.
When coin dealer Israel Switt passed away, his children found 10 gold coins in a safety deposit box. The coins had a long history. They were originally cast by the U.S. Mint in 1933. Shortly afterwards, President Roosevelt ordered the U.S. off the gold standard. The coins were all supposed to be turned in and melted down. However, these coins were not returned, and their value is now about $80 million. The children attempted to have the coins authenticated by the Mint and federal authorities seized the coins.
Switt’s children attempted to get the coins back, but they have been denied. No one is allowed to possess these coins under any circumstances. You cannot leave property behind that you do not legally own.
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