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Dealing with family heirlooms in your estate plan

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2020 | Estate Planning |

A huge part of estate planning is protecting your legacy after you are gone. It’s a time when you can ensure your family is taken care of and that the memories you cherish together remain. When you have family heirlooms, you’re going to need to spend some time deciding what to do with them.

  1. Decide what to do with your family heirlooms

Of course, the first step is to decide where the heirlooms will go. Take some time to make a list of the items you want to keep in the family and who you are considering leaving them to. Getting your heirlooms appraised can be helpful in knowing how to fairly distribute them.

This could be a good time to talk to your family about what they want. Someone may be sentimental about that painting of your grandfather, or maybe your daughter wants to make sure she gets to keep your wedding dress.

Still, you don’t necessarily have to leave everything to your children or grandchildren. If they don’t have much interest in the heirlooms or if you just want to avoid conflict altogether, you could auction them off or donate them to an archive.

  1. Leave an explanation about your decisions

Explaining why you gave the family dishes to one person and gave another your book collection is a great way to ease tensions. It can be easy for beneficiaries to compare what they are left and feel like they got the short end of the deal. When you leave an explanation in your will or trust, it can help them see that you took the time to think about the decisions and can help them accept it.

  1. Put your specific wishes in your will or trust

As you put your family heirlooms in your estate plan, talk to your lawyer and your personal representative or trustee about your decisions. It’s always a good idea for them to understand your reasoning so that they can help the process go smoothly. Make sure that everything is designated specifically in your will or trust to help minimize confusion.

If you expect any conflict amongst beneficiaries, talk with your lawyer about that too. They can make recommendations for keeping disputes to a minimum, like ‘no contest’ clauses.

Splitting up family heirlooms can feel like a recipe for arguments, but there are ways to help your family understand that you are doing what you think is best.