Sentimental property can be difficult to deal with when creating an estate plan. Many people find it much easier to distribute their highly valuable property than they do their items with sentimental value. How do you deal with such property when creating your inheritance or estate plan? Today we are going to take a look at several options you can consider that might help you determine how best to distribute sentimentally valuable property.
Sentimental Property Lists
It’s typically best to begin any inheritance plan by developing a list of all the property you own. This list should not only include your most valuable assets, such as investments or real estate, but it should also keep track of personal and sentimentally valuable property. If you have personal property that is not sentimentally valuable and which does not have a high dollar value, there is typically no need to keep track of such individual items. But a BIG caution: in our experience children often fight most about the least valuable asset because it has a high sentimental value. If there is as asset that has some emotional or sentimental attachment to one of your children, it should be discussed as early as possible. After a decision is made, use a personal property memorandum or other document contained within your estate plan to indicate how the asset is to be distributed after you die.
Tales of Sentimental Property
Many of the sentimental items we own have personal stories or family histories attached to them in some way. Our reluctance to shed these items often stems from those stories, and the fear that disposing of the item means disposing of the memories.
An easy way to combat this fear is to create a journal and write down all the stories associated with each of those items. You can also take photos of the items, include them in the journal, and thus keep a permanent record of all the personal histories that are so valuable. Once those stories have been separated from the items, it then becomes much easier to get rid of those items. If the stories are valuable to other members of your family, you can also make copies and distribute them.
Sentimental Property Distribution Plans
Because sentimental property is typically not divisible, it’s difficult to determine how you might want to pass on that property as an inheritance. For example, should your grandfather’s wartime mementos go to your siblings, a child, or a grandchild?
These kinds of questions can have no clear answer, and when dealing with how to distribute such indivisible items it often a good idea create a fair distribution system. You can, for example, create a system that allows your loved ones to decide on who receives those items on their own. You can also give your executor the power to develop a system that will allow each of your loved ones to make choices about which personally valuable item they like to receive.