Family heirlooms are items that carry a certain amount of sentimental value. They may have been passed down for generations. But even if they are just heirlooms going from one generation to the next, they can be tricky, and they may increase the odds of an estate dispute.
Part of the problem is that you can’t always find solutions that satisfy everyone. Say that you have three heirs who want a specific heirloom because of the memories that are attached to it. You cannot give it to all three of them, it might be unrealistic or impossible for them to share it, and selling that item just means that the family loses it forever. Plus, many heirlooms have very little financial value, even if they have a lot of sentimental value, so selling them doesn’t make sense from this perspective either.
What can you do?
The key is to plan well in advance. Make it very clear in your estate plan which heirlooms you want to go to which individuals. The more direction you can provide for your heirs, the lower the odds of a dispute, even when they aren’t happy with your directions.
In fact, it’s usually best to talk to your heirs in advance. Ask them what items they might want. Explain your reasoning when deciding who gets which assets. Give them a chance to make requests or even talk to each other about what they would like to inherit. When everyone works together, solutions are easier to find than when you simply make all of these decisions on your own.
To create an estate plan that works well for your family, be sure you know exactly what steps to take.