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Have a conversation before leaving items to family

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Estate Planning |

When it comes to estate planning, it can be easy to get caught up in the assumption that loved ones will be grateful for any and every bit of inheritance passed down to them. While this is often true of financial assets, loved ones may be a bit less apt to take ownership of physical property. It is a good idea for Florida planners to align with beneficiaries on the fate of these items so they are not left to someone who might not be able to use them (or, alternatively, are kept from someone who would). 

Physical property that can cause controversy, squabbles 

Common property that can cause debates in families include the family home, beach/vacation houses, collections, and family heirlooms. These items can be particularly contentious if one person wants the item but others would prefer to sell it and split the proceeds. While this may be a purely financial matter with real estate, based on whether one beneficiary can “buy out” the others, there could be more challenges when it comes to household items or so-called “stuff.” 

Be careful when passing down family china and collections 

Leaving a single item with sentimental value to someone in a will is unlikely to cause too much fuss, especially if it is clear why that person might inherit the item. However, it is more difficult to contend with collections of items, for example, multiple sets of china passed down through several generations. Younger beneficiaries in particular might not have space for three, four or five china sets. The same is likely true of collections, which may take up a great deal of space and hold little meaning for inheritors. 

There are a few ways to avoid burdening family with items they may not want. Planners who are comfortable with such items being sold can make this a clear option in the will. Although inheritors may sell the property inherited regardless, it could comfort them to know they have explicit permission. Alternatively, items could be donated to a museum or left to a family member who has expressed their desire to hold onto them. There is no right answer; however, like any estate planning question, it is a good idea to discuss options with a legal professional.