Passing your family heirlooms to your family should be a welcome and sacred tradition. But sadly, for many families it can cause a lot of drama. Did you know that your family is more likely to fight over sentimental items instead of money?
If you don’t want that to happen in your family, here’s what you can do:
1. Add specific designations to your Will and/or Trust.
Typically, a Will or Trust will specify that all personal property goes to the “residue” and is split equally between all heirs. But you may want to get more specific with items that are already family heirlooms or that you want to become family heirlooms. All too often children will discover after Mom or Dad has passed that an item was promised to more than one person. This is why it is important to create a list of your family heirlooms, assign names to each item and share that list during a family gathering while you’re still alive and well. This list (formally called a personal property memorandum) can then be incorporated into your will or trust, so it becomes legally binding.
2. Make it fun.
Indicate in your Will and/or Trust that you want your family to make it a game and “auction off” your special items. Each family member can be given “credits” to use to “bid” on the items they want. Or family members can choose items round-robin style with each family member making one choice before going back around for family member’s to make their second choice. Then, after all the picking is done, family members can trade amongst themselves.
3. Give it away during life.
Give away your family heirlooms during your lifetime so that you can see your loved ones enjoy it.
4. Leave a recorded legacy.
We’ve found the best way to pass on more than just your money is to record a story associated with each one of your family heirlooms. Include where the heirloom came from, who you are passing it onto and the special significance it has to you. This recording is likely to become the most valuable asset you can leave behind.