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White House ivory ban may affect estate administration

Recently, a White House official announced an initiative to ban all commercial trade of ivory. Long sought after for its beauty, elephant ivory has been under scrutiny in the United States for decades because of concerns over its collection. While such an initiative may seem like just another mundane action being taken in Washington, it could have a potential effect on estate administration in Florida.

Numerous Florida residents possess ivory items that have been passed down through the generations. These items were lawfully acquired long before the ban and regulations took effect. It is only natural to expect that these items continue to stay in the family. Unfortunately, little known laws and regulations could have an impact on the transfer of such assets.

For instance, a court recently restricted the transfer of a piece of artwork that contained a stuffed bald eagle. The family argued since the piece could not be bought or sold under federal law, it had no value. The Internal Revenue Service, however, disagreed and valued the piece at $65 million. While a settlement was reached in that case, it highlights the legal issues and estate complexities that can arise in such cases.

Local estate lawyers in Florida may have experience managing such intricate legal issues. They may help individuals plan for these events and administer an estate without violating any laws. While some people are choosing to probate a parent’s estate without the help of a professional, this strategy exposes the estate to claims by creditors or taxing agencies for a variety of untold reasons. As a result, it may be a good idea to retain a professional with experience managing the various complexities that will arise.

Source:, “White House Announces Ban on Commercial Trade of Elephant Ivory,” Diana Wierbicki, March 3, 2014

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