As you do your estate planning, some of it seems fairly straightforward. If you have financial accounts, you can divide them between your children. If you have real estate, you can leave it to all of them or sell it and split the money up between them.
But what about family heirlooms? These are items that often have a lot of sentimental value, such as old jewelry or an art collection. But these things may not have that much actual value. In some families, heirlooms are just things like dishes or glasses. They have very little value if you were to sell them, but they’re very important to people for whom they’ve been passed down through the family. Other examples include watches, firearms, books, and much more.
Talking to your children
Perhaps the best thing you can do is simply talk to your heirs in advance. Ask them what heirlooms they would like. Find out if anyone was already assuming they would get a certain item.
One of the best things about doing this is that there may be a conflict that you can resolve early. Two children may want the same heirloom. If you simply wrote into your will that one of them got it, this could cause an estate dispute or a disagreement between those two individuals. But if it happens while you’re still there to talk with them, the three of you may be able to find some sort of solution.
Family heirlooms are common causes for disputes, simply because selling them and dividing the money is never really an option. It’s important to know what you can do in your estate plan to lower the odds of these disputes and ensure that your family gets what they want and deserve.