Generational taste changes make estate planning talks important

When you visit your parents' or grandparents' home, do you like what you see? How do you feel about that grandfather clock in the corner of the living room? What about the fine china in your grandma's large dining room hutch? If you are of the millennial generation or even if you are a baby boomer, it wouldn't be surprising if such items don't meet your taste.

Beliefs, attitudes and values change from generation to generation. That reality can make for en emotionally complicated future when heirlooms are handed down to family members who, if they are being honest, do not want the stuff that they've inherited. In order for valued items to remain valued, families might want to have very open, sensitive conversations about their loved one's will and who wants -- or doesn't want -- what.

While some see passing down certain items to their family as the obvious plan of action after they die, an honest conversation might reveal that a different plan would be a better idea for all involved. Say, for example, a grandmother has collected dolls for decades. She loves and cherishes her doll collection. Her collecting has been a valuable life hobby. Instead of leaving the collection to a child or grandchild who isn't interested in it or doesn't have space for the collection, the grandmother could specify in her will that she wants the collection to go to an organization or shop that will value the dolls.

A potential heir turning down what their loved one wants to leave them might sound insensitive. Worry about hurt feelings, however, could keep beloved possessions from landing in the hands of a person or place that will love them as well. A loved one also might want to avoid leaving their family with things that they don't want. If they know how their family feels, at least they can make plans based on that knowledge that they feel content with.

An estate planning lawyer can help someone draft a will with clear instructions regarding assets from money, cars to more personal heirlooms like dolls, baseball cards and more.

Source: Star Tribune, "No longer saved for generations, family heirlooms are being shed," Kim Palmer, April 22, 2013


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