For a while now, my mom has been trying to get me, my sister and my sister in law together at her house so we can go through all her heirlooms (aka lots and lots of “stuff” she’s collected) and decide what we each might want “someday” when she passes on. All three of us have small kids and jobs and households to run so finding the time to get together for such a momentous occasion has been almost impossible. But my mom is persistent, and truly, it is the right thing to do. There’s no better time than the present.
The holidays are traditionally the time for family gatherings, where generations come together and perform holiday rituals that have been passed down through the years. Part of those rituals includes material possessions – a well-worn set of silver at the holiday table, grandmother’s china or treasured tree ornaments from childhood.
When we sit down to that holiday meal, rarely do we contemplate Susie and Sally engaged in a bitter fight over the sterling butter knives. But it happens. A lot. Sometimes the most painful fights after a loved one dies is over the cherished family heirlooms.
To ensure that family memories are kept in a good place, a good estate plan needs to address the passing down of your material possessions. These possessions can hold special meaning not only to the older generation, but also to younger generations. A potential family feud that could be on the horizon can be avoided by advance planning.
Be sure you specify exactly who you want to get what by:
• Listing in detail each item and the name of the intended recipient (take pictures if possible)
• Sharing this list with your estate executor as well as with your family
• Including the list within your last will and testament or other estate planning documents
Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients.
She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes. For more, you can Follow her on Twitter , Friend her on Facebook or check out her Blog. If that’s not enough, you can also find her on Linked In or Avvo.