Many of us have accumulated a lot of stuff over the course of our lifetimes. Some of it may have significant monetary value, but most items have more sentimental worth.
All of a person’s belongings have to end up somewhere after they pass away, and a lot of people don’t do the planning to clearly communicate where these possessions should go. This can lead to a lot of stress, confusion, and sometimes conflict among loved ones after someone has passed. One might have a collection of sports memorabilia that they built during their lifetime that may be passed down to someone who doesn’t really care about sports, or there may be multiple heirs that feel entitled to one important item, like a parent’s wedding ring.
Losing a loved one is already very difficult, and things can become even more difficult when tension arises among family members without guidance on how to divide valuable or complex assets. Here are some tips to consider for your estate plan:
1. During estate planning, be clear about your wishes.
It’s not easy to talk about, but it makes things much easier when parents and children or other family members can have an open and honest conversation about their inheritances. Not only does this give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity, but they can also speak up if there is a specific item they want to have (or don’t want to have).
2. Distinguish monetary from sentimental value.
Most of us have antiques or pieces of jewelry that we might assume to be worth a lot of money. However, these items are often difficult to sell and might not sell for as much as they would have in years past. The same is true for art. Unless the artist is renowned among collectors, a piece is unlikely to be worth a lot of money. Museums also may not have the space to keep a work of art that you would want to donate to them. If you have some assets with value that isn’t obvious to just anyone, it’s helpful to let family members or an advisor know about this during the estate planning process.
3. Simplify your estate wherever possible.
If you want to make your inheritance as hassle-free as possible, you may want to convert as many of your assets as you can to cash or donate them to a worthy cause. If you have a complex asset like a timeshare, consider the ongoing costs and fees when working on your estate plan. This type of asset may end up putting additional strain on descendants, especially if they don’t have the time available to enjoy these properties.
For help creating or updating your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.