With the recent start of hunting season, I have many clients who ask about various matters related to hunting.
As I have not covered this topic in previous articles, I thought it might be worth sharing. I will work from the simple to the more complex.
Everybody needs a will, trust or other document to convey ownership to their survivors or else the state will provide it for you.
This is true for everyone, not just hunters.
It is a good idea to express, by way of a memorandum, your wishes about those items of personal property that might carry special sentimental value.
Whether it is that Browning 300 WSM with 50 mm Kronus illuminated scope or the high dollar Gibson box caller that grandpa used to call in the big gobblers, these are items that carry special meaning.
If you don’t want to give them away during your lifetime, write down your wishes in a memorandum.
Proper designation makes sure family members (who might have hunted with you during life) receive the property and properly appreciate its meaning.
Many hunters own equity interest in a hunt club formed as a limited liability company.
Please review the operating agreement carefully.
Pay particular attention to what happens to your interest upon death.
In many cases, the company has the right, upon your death, to mandate the repurchase of your equity or membership interest.
This is a big deal, especially if your spouse or children enjoy the property.
In some cases, the repurchase amount might be your initial cost, which could be much lower than current value.
Not only would the loss of use of the property be potentially troublesome, but also the reduced value (which just might be in there to preserve the ongoing value of the hunt club company and prevent timber cutting) could cause disputes between the surviving family and the other company members.
It is worth bringing this topic up to your hunt club members and considering the implications.
If they share the enjoyment of the property with you, your family should be aware of the rights associated with your membership interest.
If there is not a repurchase clause, make sure your membership interest is properly titled (i.e., in trust) in order to avoid probate.
Finally, many hunters lease their property.
These leases might not have any right to assign the balance of the lease term (after death).
If not incorporated in the lease, make sure you assign the rights consistent with the lease.
Hunting is often a family activity shared with grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren. It is a sport of shared experience.
Make sure you protect the memories by addressing these concerns during life.
Douglas S. Delaney, J.D., LL.M is a local tax and estate planning attorney in Bluffton. www.delaneylawfirmplansahead.com