Estate planning and personal items: do the kids even want them?


For many people in California, passing on treasured family heirlooms and sentimental property is an important part of estate planning. But, according to a recent news story, many members of the so-called "millennial" generation are not particularly interested in inheriting furniture, antiques and collectibles from their older relatives.

The owner of one auction and consignment business says business has increased threefold over the past five years, as baby boomers pass away and their children don't want the furniture and personal items they left behind. But, the auction house is turning down 60 percent of the items that come in.

Many baby boomers are surprised to learn that their family heirlooms are not worth as much as they thought. The auction house owner says the antiques market has collapsed since the Great Recession. For example, the porcelain figurines known as Hummels, which were once popular collectibles, have lost most of their value in recent years.

It's a good idea to talk to children and other heirs when it comes to collectibles and sentimental items. If no one wants an item, it can be sold or given to charity. This way a person's descendants are not burdened with the task of disposing of it.

For those items the kids do want, a good way to deal with them in an estate plan is through a written list. In California, an individual preparing a will can make a separate written list of personal property, naming the beneficiaries who should receive each item. The list must be referred to in the will in order to be effective, and it must be signed and dated. If testators want to change who is to receive which items, all they have to do is prepare a new list, sign it and date it.

Source: kjzz.org, "No Thanks, Mom: Many Millennials Don't Want Parents' Furniture, Collectibles," Christina Estes, Nov. 28, 2016

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