After her mother’s death, a client told me that her father wanted to know which household furnishings and personal items she wanted. With hesitating, she said that she wanted nothing more than her mother’s guitar and her father’s first reader. He insisted that she must want more, but those two items carried immeasurable sentimental value for her.
And it was a good thing that he asked, too. According to my client, her father likely would have divided everything equally among his daughter and other children without considering what meant more to each of them.
I’m sharing this story because it may surprise you during your estate planning to discover what your family considers sentimental or valuable. Two brothers I know do not speak to each other anymore — even though they both inherited over one million dollars — because both swear up and down that their grandmother promised them her grandfather clock. This is proof that monetary value is often outclassed by the sentimental stuff that symbolizes your family legacy.
- Precious family heirlooms
- Videos and other recordings
- Pictures and other keepsakes
In my book, Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die, I explain that your heirs are more likely to fight over sentimental items than anything else. It is best to learn this ahead of time and come to a fair decision about it. Someone may still be disappointed, but it will be easier to deal with the emotions when they are not also dealing with the grieving process.
How do I be mindful of the sentimental stuff?
Family history should be preserved. It is good to write down or record what you know or can discover from simple conversations so that nothing is left to chance. Make a list of the things you think your family members will value and include the things that you want them to value. Ask them to identify which of your possessions hold sentimental value for them, and let them share their stories with you.
Other things you can do to preserve the sentimental stuff includes:
- Create audio or video recordings of your memories
- Write down detailed descriptions and history of priceless heirlooms, including their backstory
- Keep all family pictures and letters in one place so that they can be easily accessed and shared
Once you have done this, your family will have a better idea of which items are special and a greater appreciation for your family’s history. It also will be easier to decide which items you should leave to whom. Go a step further and clearly identify those gifts with pictures or video recordings. That way, you eliminate any potential confusion.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!
Do you have questions about an estate plan and being mindful of sentimental stuff? Having a competent estate planner in your corner will help you and your family navigate the often overwhelming waters that come with protecting everything you own and everyone you love. That is our job, and we would like to think we do it better than anyone else. Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC so that we can help ensure you and your family are taken care of in the best way possible.
Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.