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Estate planning: How to transfer property with sentimental value

Estate planning is not just about your assets that have a substantial monetary value. Sometimes sentimental items can be even more important to your heirs.

One recent example of this was when a family accidentally gave a ceremonial key to a thrift store after their father passed away at age 100. The key, which was given to the father for his service in the Coast Guard, was not included in the will, and the family did not thoroughly examine the suitcase that the key was inside. Luckily, the key found its way back to the family.

The story, which was highlighted by the Washington Post, is a prime example of how crucial it is to plan for the distribution of your sentimental assets. Here are some tips for ensuring the proper inheritance of family heirlooms such as antiques, photos and jewelry.

Handing them out as gifts

There are several reasons you might choose to give emotionally valuable items to your heirs now instead of transferring them through a will or trust. Giving gifts while you are still alive may reduce confusion and anger over who gets certain items. It may also begin a dialogue among your family about the history of the item and why it is significant.

If you want to know what some of your family members or friends would like to inherit, this is a good time to find out. You might assume your son wants your vinyl record collection, but he might actually prefer souvenirs from a family vacation. Lastly, you get the benefit of seeing people enjoy their gifts now.

Using a will or trust

Even if you have conversations with your heirs about the distribution of your assets, it is still important to create estate planning documents that arrange for the transfer of property after you die. You can include specific provisions in your will or trust to determine how to transfer each asset.

Keep in mind, too, that specific kinds of trusts can help you achieve specific goals. For more on that, please see our overview of trust creation in Texas.

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