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Tips for dealing with family heirlooms in your estate plan

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Whether assets are placed in a trust or kept in your estate, you must decide who owns them after your death. If you don’t have a will or trust, Maryland law will likely determine who gets your home, art collection or other important belongings. Assuming that you do have a will or trust, there are several methods of allocating assets that you can use.

Appoint someone to make decisions for you

If you can’t decide who should get a painting, piece of jewelry or other rare items, you can appoint another person to do so on your behalf. This person could be a family friend, a colleague or a professional who has a fiduciary duty to your estate. Of course, you can still have input into how assets are allocated without having to make hard decisions that might alienate your loved ones.

Let your beneficiaries choose

Instead of letting an outside party allocate your belongings, you could allow your beneficiaries to do so themselves. For instance, you could hold a draft where each of your heirs takes turns claiming items that they want to keep. If multiple heirs choose to state claim to a single item, you can be the tiebreaking vote. You can also stipulate that items that are desired by multiple parties are to be sold as part of your estate planning strategy. The proceeds from the sale would then be split evenly among your beneficiaries.

Family dynamics tend to play a significant role in how you craft your estate plan. Although some conflicts may be unavoidable, creating transparent protocols for how heirlooms are allocated may keep them to a minimum. If necessary, you can give assets away during your lifetime in an effort to prevent hurt feelings or resentment among your beneficiaries.