HelferBell, Here Are Your Articles for Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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How to Leave Your Indivisible Wealth to Your Heirs


You own a beautiful heirloom — a precious piece of your family's history — but what should you do with it? Some of the greatest treasures passed down through generations are pieces of vintage family jewelry. It could be the antique engagement ring that Grandpa proposed to Grandma with. Or furniture, such as the desk she used to start the family business. Your family history imbues these items with immense sentimental value.

Such beauty and history deserves a better fate than just gathering dust or hiding in a cedar box. What will you do with pieces you are ready to release to the sands of time?

  1. Preserve the provenance of each piece. Photograph the item and make a record of who owned it. If you aren't sure, do some online research on the style of the piece by exploring vintage jewelry and/or antique furniture websites. The family history associated with this item will be permanently saved in physical form for when you pass along the piece to an heir.
  2. Have the item appraised. A $2,000 vintage diamond engagement ring deserves a wholly different level of treatment than a $20 piece of costume jewelry, as does a piece of antique furniture versus an Ikea put-together. So get an expert evaluation of the monetary value of the item. Depending on the appraisal, you may decide it merits extra insurance coverage to guard against loss.
  3. Create a separate list of items to ensure your estate plan includes heirlooms — items important to your family history. Considering titled and non-titled property in a comprehensive approach to estate planning can provide a means of recognizing a broad range of relationships. Some heirs will be interested in one class, but not another. You want to avoid giving heirs property that they have no interest in or denying them property that they may desire mightily.

A bequest is a gift by will of personal property. It's easier to divide some types of property than others. How can you divide a diamond ring, Grandma's pearls, an antique desk or fine china? You can make specific bequests of these items.

You can give your executor directions in your will and in a letter of instruction. Deciding who gets your possessions among multiple heirs can be thorny. You may choose to limit a beneficiary's rights in the property if you're worried he may sell it, give it away or squander it. You may have concern that a child may die before his or her spouse does and you want to preserve assets for your grandchildren.

You should discuss this issue with your attorney. There are two alternatives to full property ownership: put it in a trust, or grant the beneficiary a life estate in the property. In this way, you give the heir the right to use and possess the item for life and identify who will get the property when the heir dies.

Your estate plan should cover the pieces that will forever remain some of the family's most cherished treasures in a way that gives you peace of mind and shares their beauty and history with future generations.


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