When thinking about an Estate Plan most people think primarily about their large financial assets: Real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, family businesses, etc.
Often though, the most heart-wrenching family rifts and disputes are not over the money, but over the little things that have little or no monetary value.
Your parents’ wedding rings, grandma’s heirloom candlesticks, mirror, or locket… These are the items that end up costing families more in harsh words, hurt feelings, and legal fees than any expensive property or valuable bank account.
These are the items that have a high emotional value — but many parents or grandparents don’t consider this when making out their Wills or Trusts.
Instead of leaving heirs to decide among themselves who gets photo albums, jewelry, furniture and handmade artwork after your death, consider talking to kids and grandkids about this memorabilia and emotional heirlooms now. Keep in mind that this might not be an easy conversation to initiate. Most kids are reluctant to talk about—or even think about—their parents’ eventual passing. Many parents have found that they have to broach the subject more than once before their kids are willing to talk about it.
Another option is to privately make up your own list of which heirlooms you’d like to go to which heir (a Personal Property Memorandum) and then show it to your heirs ahead of time. This gives your heirs the opportunity to voice their preferences or concerns while you’re still alive.
In many cases simply knowing that you put time and thought into the giving of each heirloom makes heirs more likely to accept and appreciate your gifts when the time comes to receive them.