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Family Heirlooms

Not every family has beautiful (or not so beautiful as the case may be) family heirlooms to consider, but if yours does then it is important that they are accounted for when the owner wants to make a will. These items may not have much (if any) financial value, but their emotional value is priceless and the stories behind then about how owned them and how they came to be part of the family can be utterly fascinating.

It can be a common problem when two or more family members believe that they are entitled to the family heirloom and there is no provision for it in the will or if no one can find a will – rifts can be formed and big arguments can happen at an already difficult time. Or it could be that someone was promised the item but that the wish was never written down and now there is only their word for it.

Including the heirloom specifically in a will will stop all of these problems, although there may still be some in-fighting from those who wanted the item or expected it. Therefore, as well as including the heirloom in your will and naming it specifically you should also talk to your family about who you are intending to give it to, and why. Make sure they know before your will is executed so that they won’t have a big surprise when they are also grieving as this can make things much worse. If you do not make a will and you have no family then the services of heir hunters may also be required.

Remember, however, that if the item is sold or given away then your will should be updated to reflect this otherwise many wasted hours (or days, weeks, even months) could be spent searching for something mentioned within your will when it no longer exists, or at least is no longer with any family members. And if you do give it away to a family member before your death, make a note of that – otherwise, if your will says something different (or nothing at all) they may have to give it back for it to be given to the ‘rightful’ heir. 

Tony Crocker