Leaving something for your children, grandchildren and generations to come is more than simply passing on financial resources, household items and treasured heirlooms. The objects that are special to you and your family deserve to have their stories told and passed down through the generations as well.
What to Preserve
Mentioning an heirloom in your will is one way to pass the treasured possession down, but it can feel impersonal if not accompanied by a story. Make the heirloom even more special by including the following information:
- Who owned it first? Was in your grandmother, her mother or someone else?
- How did that person acquire this item? Was it a gift? Did they save their money to buy it?
- Do you remember any funny or special moments involving this piece?
- Why do you think a particular person in your family would like to have this heirloom?
Label, Label, Label
Just as it’s important to label family photos, it’s also essential to identify the objects that are special to you. You may remember your grandmother playing music on her treasured piano, but your grandchildren don’t have that memory. Your grandmother and her story are a big part of what makes the piano special. Labeling your antiques and heirlooms can help younger generations understand their importance within the family.
There are options when it comes to labeling. You can simply write a few words about an item on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the bottom of the piece. Alternatively, you could type up a detailed description of the item and its significance and tape that on. This approach works well for larger pieces, such as furniture.
Make an Heirloom Album
Since many objects, like crystal and jewelry, are too small for direct labeling, a photo album may be a better choice. To create an heirloom photo album, you can use a traditional picture album or create a digital one on the computer. If you choose a digital album, have a copy printed for each person mentioned in your will.
To make your album, snap photos of each important heirloom. For an extra touch, have a friend or family member take photos of your using the heirloom. Then pair each photo with a story or a few lines of information.
Create a Video Record of Your Heirloom
Similar to a photo album, a video record of your heirlooms can help match the object to its story. However, a video is an even more meaningful way to provide the history of a special piece. When you leave your memories about each item on video, it preserves your voice, mannerisms, and story along with the information.
You can create your own video with a friend or family member or incorporate heirlooms into a professional video biography. Either way, your grandchildren and great grandchildren will love this visual record of their history.
The Gift of Family History
Your will is a legal document that tells how you would like your property divided. It doesn’t, however, generally include the meaning behind an heirloom. Whether you choose to label your treasures with masking tape or record your memories in an album or on video, know future generations will cherish an heirloom more knowing how and why it is part of the family history.
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