The notion of what is a family heirloom, or at least passing them down through generations, is beginning to change in Florida and across the country. In decades past, a classic piece of furniture or a one-of-a kind trinket would be guarded like a secret family recipe. However, younger generations (specifically millenials) do not find that these treasures have much value.
Because of this, is it important for people creating wills to be careful in trusting family heirlooms to heir?
Like many legal questions...it depends. However, it is helpful to consider where your heirs currently live and what their lifestyle allows for. For example, if you are leaving a fine china set contained in a large dining room hutch, it may not be practical to leave it to someone who lives in a small apartment, or a relative who does not entertain.
Conversely, it may be a good idea to leave a scrapbook to someone who only keeps digital images of pictures. Such a person would be likely to scan and keep old letters and photos in a secure location in the event the scrapbook is damaged.
With these new norms, retirees may also consider appointing a person to be the family archivist or custodian of family property. This person may not keep heirlooms in their home, but would be responsible for making sure that the items are cared for.
Further, it would be helpful to consider charitable organizations or historical societies that take pride in preserving pieces of history for future generations. If you have questions about how to draft provisions allowing for these actions in your will, an experienced estate planning attorney can help.
Source: NY Times.com, The 700 doll question, May 9, 2013