ARTICLE: Inheritance Planning: Family Heirlooms

Inheritance Planning: Family Heirlooms

When people think of estate planning, they usually think of using tools to pass along things like bank and retirement account funds and homes. Estate planning can also be used to define what should happen to other important assets, like family heirlooms. There are numerous ways to ensure that loved ones receive precious family heirlooms, and which method is most appropriate varies from case to case. If you would like to learn more about how you can use estate planning to protect your family heirlooms, you should speak with a capable Corning estate planning lawyer.

Using Wills To Pass on Family Heirlooms

Wills are one of the most frequently used estate planning tools, with good reason. Wills serve a variety of purposes, and almost everyone benefits from executing them. Wills can be used to designate who should receive any asset owned by the testator, including family heirlooms. While people are often tempted to draft wills without the assistance of an attorney, it is imprudent to do so, as they may inadvertently make mistakes that render the will worthless. In other words, New York law requires that wills are in writing and signed by two witnesses in addition to the testator; if they are not, they will be deemed invalid.

It is important for anyone who wishes to pass a family heirloom to a beneficiary in a will to clearly describe the heirloom and, if possible, indicate where it can be found to avoid misunderstandings and fighting between their heirs. For example, rather than saying a family ring should go to a certain person, the testator should explain what the ring is made of and whether it includes any stones. In New York, wills are subject to probate, which is the process of proving the will is valid and distributing the deceased person’s assets. As such, there may be a delay between the testator’s death and when the beneficiary receives the heirloom.

Personal Property Memorandum

People can also designate who should receive family heirlooms via personal property memorandums which is a document that is referenced in a will or trust. Essentially, the memorandum sets forth a list of each item that they wish to leave to a person and explains the reasons for doing so. Typically, the courts will deem such memorandums legally binding as long as they are referenced in a trust or will. The memorandum can be typed or handwritten but must
be signed and dated. The benefit of using a personal property memorandum is that the testator can easily modify it without the assistance of an attorney, and it can be continuously updated.

Talk to a Proficient Corning Estate Planning Attorney

Family heirlooms are often passed down from one generation to the next, and estate planning tools can help to ensure that such precious items are protected and stay within a person’s family. If you would like to explore your estate planning options, call us today to schedule a meeting at 607-962-6162 or complete this intake form and we’ll be in touch.

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We at Roth Elder Law, PLLC, believe in providing services in a way that clients can easily understand and meaningfully participate in designing and maintaining their estate plan for their loved ones, as well as be assured that their plan will be administered according to their wishes.