One of the hardest parts of creating an estate plan is dealing with sentimental items. There is just so much more to consider.
With financial assets, it may be largely academic. You want to split your money evenly between two heirs, for instance, so you just have to tally up your assets and divide them.
With sentimental assets, though, such division is impossible. A painting goes to one person. A necklace can’t be divided. Selling the items so that you can divide the money just crushes your heirs, who cared about those specific items — not the value.
So what should you do?
To help you avoid disputes and arguments among your heirs, here are a few estate planning tips:
- Make your specific wishes known to your heirs. List any item you think may have special value to them.
- Update this list when needed. If you sell assets or gain new ones, be sure your list is current.
- Talk to your heirs about your decisions, while going over the list. Allow them to tell you if they disagree with something, rather than arguing with your other heirs later on.
- Give away items before you pass away. Many sentimental items have little value, so you don’t have to worry about gift taxes, and you can get all of this sorted out as a family.
Above all else, just communicate with your heirs so that everyone knows what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Then learn about the estate planning steps needed to make that planning part of your overall will and other legal documents. An attorney can help you explore all of the options and guide you through the process.