When you’re drawing up your estate plan, it’s understandable that you’re focused on who will be inheriting your largest assets, like your bank, retirement and investment accounts.
You’re deciding whether you want to leave your home to a loved one or have it sold and the profits returned to your estate for distribution to your beneficiaries. You’re designating who will care for your pets and making sure there’s money set aside for their care. You’re likely including provisions for who will inherit your jewelry, art, antiques and other items of value.
If you’re like a lot of people, however, you haven’t given much thought to what will happen to family heirlooms, including souvenirs you’ve collected over the years and photos you’ve taken throughout or that belonged to your parents and grandparents. You might think no one will want them. But have you asked anyone?
These items can end up being the source of conflict
One wealth management professional reminds people that items with little monetary value but significant sentimental value too often end up being the source of family conflict after a loved one dies. Estate planning experts advise people to talk to family members to find out if they have any interest in having various souvenirs, clothing, photos and other memorabilia after they’re gone. Likely, some people are more interested than others.
If you have more than one child or other family members who desperately want the same item, you’ll need to make a choice. Fortunately, if it involves photos, those can be digitized for everyone to share. It’s always best when you explain your decisions while you’re still around. Don’t forget to list these items and who is getting them in your will so that there’s no question about it.
Consider donating items nobody wants
If no one wants certain items, you might want to consider donating them to a museum or historical society. Harvard probably won’t want them, but there’s no shortage of small local and specialized museums throughout Massachusetts and New England. The same is true of virtually every state. The reason we know so much about our history is in no small part because for generations, people kept and handed down photos, correspondence and other items from their lives.
Communication with loved ones, careful planning and clear, detailed provisions are all essential parts of comprehensive estate planning. So is experienced legal guidance.