Estate planning involves more than just your money, your house and your car. Many clients overlook those valuable family heirlooms, which hold great value, if not monetary, certainly emotional value. Part of determining how your assets should be distributed necessarily includes those person effects, such as your grandfather’s pocket watch, or your great grandmother’s china. If you have never considered how much your baseball card collection may be worth, now is probably the time. Estate planning and family heirlooms are important issues with which your estate planning attorney can be of great assistance.
Write it all down and be specific
You may have already asked your children to tell you which of your personal belongings they may want after you pass away. Even if the children pretty much agree right now about who should have what, that could change in the future. Especially if memories fade or personal feelings and preferences change. While it is not necessary that you specifically bequeath every single personal item you own, those meaningful bequests should be written down in detail. Preserving your wishes on these matters will be important to you and your beneficiaries down the road.
Have your heirlooms appraised
The traditional definition of a family heirloom is a particular item that has been passed down from one generation to the next, or that you intend to be passed down in that way. It could be artwork or antique furniture, which may hold monetary value. It could be an item with significant historical value, or simply sentimental value. Regardless, the first step should be to determine the potential monetary value by getting the items appraised, preferably while you are still living.
Who should I get to appraise my heirlooms?
Depending on the type of heirlooms you have, there is more than likely a dealer available to provide an appraisal. Antique dealers, fine art dealers, historical or rare book dealers, all have the expertise needed to provide an accurate appraisal of your property. If you don’t know where to start in finding one, there are professional organization, such as Private Art Dealers Association, Art Dealers Association of America, International Fine Print Dealers Association, or the National Antique and Art Dealers Association of America, which can be useful in finding a qualified dealer.
Include a “No-Contest Clause”
Include a “No-Contest Clause” in your will or trust, which discourages family disputes over inheritances. With this clause, any of your heirs that chooses to contest the will not be entitled to receive any part of the inheritance.
If you have questions regarding family heirlooms, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Wilcox Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.