Passing on Prized Possessions?

Passing on the family’s most prized & precious possessions can be quite precarious. The truth is, these items often involve much more than their monetary value. The emotional connection of sentimental value can expose some "irrationalities," even in the most practical. And I get it. It is difficult to decide what to do with the belongings your parents have built their lives around. Many of the items have a special meaning to them. Your mom’s kitchen table is not just a table. It is the memory of the love cooked up and served at that table. The major family decisions made at that table and so on. Now the homestead. Your parent’s house is not just simply a piece of real estate, but the memory of the wonderful times you spent there together. How do you put a value on that? The answer is the same for each… clinically and self-removed. Cold yes, but it’s the hard truth. In this post, I want talk about how handle a few of the more complex items you may face. Antiques, personal collections, a home, and try to make the process of dealing with them a lot easier for you. So, let’s dive in…

What shall we do with our parent’s antiques and collectibles?


If your parents are like mine, and have the dreaded collector gene, you might have a little more of a challenge than others. Just like other personal belongings, the items may have more of a sentimental than actual monetary value. And therefor, more of a perceived valuable to your parents, not necessarily even to you or anyone else. There are two ways to deal with this situation. You can decide to either sell the collection intact, as many collectors prefer, falsely believing the new owner will keep the collection together…. or split up the collection and sell the items individually. I tend to advise the later as the return for the family tends to be greater. There are a few rare exceptions.

If your parents have a collection that is very valuable to them, the most sensible thing to do is to have an independent 3rd party appraisal conducted. You need to know the current fair market value. I also think you’ll find, it can act like a buffer for you. It’s typically a dose of reality. You know, “The Facts” and, makes those sharing the news the bad guy or “the messenger.” Let them be shot…not you. They are the professionals.


In the event that an individual family member would like to have the collection, your parents can treat it in a similar manner as they would, any tangible personal property or assets. Adding it to the will is very important and can quell arguments later. Or at least litigation. Let’s just say it’s a lot less stress later if it’s documented now, then the family squabbling or having different recollections as to whom, was to get what later. Especially under the duress of the loss of a loved one. People tend to not act rational and understandable so. Your parents or loved one’s wishes in a will can additionally go as far as explaining the reason for the giveaway in case their property is not split equally. Sometimes, it is just that one sibling was chosen to curate the family’s heirlooms until they pass again to the next generation, and not about the money.

Let me circle back before the ADD kicks in…. There are collections that may require special attention. Kind of a broad brush here, but I think you’ll get it. I will call it “the money” or expensive things… you know, vehicles, trucks, estate jewelry, coins, firearms, musical instruments, and such. These are likely too important to even consider disposing of through a list of tangible personal property. Your folks should ensure that their legal advisor knows about these types of collections. Forming a general bequest plan for these is a great idea.

What shall be done about The Homestead or Vacation Home?


An ever-increasing number of families are setting up trusts or enterprises to own and run these properties.


Trusts. You can build a trust for the sole reason for claiming and running the property. The trustee would be liable for keeping the spot, settling taxes, insurance, and other costs, and making reports to the family from time to time. It's ideal to have an independent trustee, since naming a beneficiary as trustee could bring about more fami