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The Do's and Don'ts of Estate Planning for Heirlooms

Daryll Pomey Orat - Thursday, September 17, 2015

According to a study conducted in 2012, more than three-quarters of Americans above the age of 75 are more interested in keeping alive their family history through heirlooms, family stories, and other objects than in receiving any monetary inheritance. While the size of the inheritance that you leave behind to your heirs can shrink due to economic factors, the heirlooms, and other memories that you leave them are invaluable.

What was surprising about the 2012 survey was the sheer number of baby-boomers who were actually looking forward to receiving not just money as part of their inheritance, but also personal keepsakes and family stories. Approximately 64% of the baby boomers in the study and 58% of seniors above the age of 72 said that heirlooms are a key aspect of the inheritance that they expect to receive/leave. Only 9% of boomers said that they were keen on receiving money, and 14% of seniors said that financial assets were an important part of their estate planning.

Heirlooms, keepsakes, family stories - this is what makes your family unique. Many heirs want to keep those memories alive, and therefore, it is very important for you to be prudent about how you distribute those assets as well. One of the things that you could do is ask your children which of the heirlooms, or keepsakes they would prefer to have for themselves. This will give you an idea of each person's desires, and help you plan these special bequeaths in a manner that actually makes all of your children happy.

Be very specific and mention which personal keepsakes you are bequeathing. You can also consider distributing at least some of these personal mementos, keepsakes and antiques while you're alive, to avoid discord later.

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