Be Sure Your Family Actually Wants What You’re Leaving Them

As people get older and start anticipating how to accomplish their estate planning, they may be deciding which of their survivors will acquire which of their things. For people in their twilight years who have lived in the same house for decades, they may have acquired quite a collection of items — furniture, fine china and the like — that they will be eager to pass down to their family and loved ones.

However, it might not occur to them that the people they have designated to receive their items may not want them. It seems to be a growing trend among baby boomers as well as their children that acquiring things from a parent or grandparent is no longer desirable.

The torrent of wealth being transferred is enormous — estimated at more than $8.4 trillion as of 2010. While assets such as cash or real estate might be sought after, the same cannot always be said with heirloom items.

For baby boomers, this is often because they have spent their adult lives acquiring their own furnishings and other items. As they are poising themselves for retirement, they are often looking to downsize their own belongings — and thus are not in a position to take on more items.

For the younger set, the consideration comes down to what it is they are looking for. They don’t want heirlooms from their grandparents — as one expert on the subject says, young people would rather buy new items of their own choosing at a trendy store such as IKEA than inherit old items they might not see as fashionable or practical.

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