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Precious assets? Make sure they're accounted for

You have plenty of assets, but you have found that the items you're most concerned about don't truly have that much value. These sentimental items are important to you.

Whether it's something like a military award or as simple as your childhood toy, you can still account for how that item is taken care of in your estate plan.

One example of this happened in a case in 2017, when an elderly man died, his family began to go through his belongings. They donated some of the items and kept others. One of those items was a suitcase, which both knew had to be looked through. Both people looking through the items in the home believed that the other had checked it, so they donated it.

Amazingly, that suitcase had the key to the city of Washington and Coast Guard uniform ribbons inside. The Coast Guard's liaison to the District of Colombia happened to be notified that it was on Goodwill's website. Amazingly enough, by talking with colleagues, the liaison discovered who that key belonged to. The colleague went on to speak with the family to make sure that they wanted the key, and he discovered that they had been searching for it.

In this fortunate situation, the key was removed from the website and taken directly to the son of the man who had passed away. There were many coincidences leading up to that moment, but this situation does point out something important: You should always identify where important, potentially sentimental, items are in your estate plan.

Something like a historical item, a family heirloom or other important asset should be identified specifically in your estate plan. State what you want to see happen to it. For example, a rare item might be donated to a museum or given to a grandchild who is interested in, and respectful of, antique items.

If you have items that are rare, precious to you or just sentimental, write them down. Give the list to your attorney, so you can talk about different ways to protect them and to make sure that they are not lost following your passing. You may want to add these items to a charitable trust, to a trust for a specific person in your family or to put them somewhere special with an indication of where that is in your estate plan. Your attorney will help make sure these items go where intended.

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