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Heirlooms can have value beyond just sentiment

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If your family is like many others, you might have grown up with elaborate tales of keepsakes passed down through the generations. Maybe you have an artifact from a family member's service in a foreign war. Perhaps a beautiful ring has been in the family for decades. You know that these items have obvious sentimental value, but you might be surprised to learn that there is potential monetary value, too. 

A story in the Washington Post details a family who discovered this for themselves. A ceremonial key passed down from the Coast Guard was mistakenly given away, only to be rediscovered and restored to the family. If you have valuables that you care about, consider the following tips.

Get the item appraised

You might have one specific item or a collection of heirlooms that you intend to keep within the family. Before making any decisions, you should have the items professionally appraised so that you are aware of their value. You would not want to underestimate the value of a keepsake if you plan on passing it down to your kids or to another beneficiary.

Consider an estate plan

Even if the heirloom in question does not have substantial monetary value, its sentimental value is worthwhile. Too many people make the mistake of neglecting estate planning and leaving family valuables for heirs to fight over. You should consider whether a will or trust is the best option, and you can consult with a legal professional for advice and guidance.

Draft inventory of heirlooms

As you begin planning your estate, you will want to create an inventory of all the family valuables in your possession, too. Once you start listing and tracking them, there may be more than you expect--or you may realize that you need to find some that are missing. Having a precise count of heirlooms is essential to accurately and effectively creating a will or trust.

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