Should I Pass on Heirlooms Before I Die?

Many people have family heirlooms that they have inherited from their parents or grandparents. Some of these items may have been in your family for generations and hold significant sentimental value, if not actual monetary value. Even those that aren’t as old, such as a piece of jewelry your grandmother owned, may be considered valuable to your siblings and your children. You can put these items in your will, of course, but that means you will have to change your will should you decide someone else should get the item. There is another solution: pass on some heirlooms before you die.

Why this Can Be an Ideal Solution

Giving your children, grandchildren, and others your family heirlooms before you die has a number of benefits. First, you can make certain the right people get the heirlooms you want them to have. There is no fighting over items, either, since you’re right there to make your intentions clear. You can smooth over any hurt feelings by talking to your loved ones and finding solutions. Maybe one daughter really wanted a certain pair of earrings someone else was going to inherit and is willing to give up any claim to the family china to get them.

Why You May Want to Put Off Doing This

On the other hand, you may not want to pass on heirlooms while you’re still alive because you want to use them. They are your property, after all, and you may not want to give them up. That’s perfectly fine. One thing you can do if you don’t want your heirs to get these items until you pass is to sit down with everyone and discuss what heirlooms they may want. Make a list of these items and who is to get them. While this list isn’t legally binding like a will is, it still lists your wishes. The executor of your estate should follow these instructions.

In some states, you can even create a personal property memorandum that is legally enforceable. Unfortunately, New York does not currently recognize these documents. These memorandums also cannot be used to leave certain items, including jewelry and art, which doesn’t make them a solution in some cases.

Call Us to Plan Out Your Estate

If you’re not certain how to best go about leaving items to your heirs, we can help. Contact the experts at Michael F. Kanzer & Associates to learn more about estate planning.

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