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 deserves to have their stories passed down through the generations as well.
What to Preserve
Listing a family 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 important 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 a family heirloom will help younger generations understand its importance within the family.
There are options when it comes to labeling. You can simply write a few words about an item on masking tape and stick it to the bottom of the piece. Or, you could type up a detailed description of the family heirloom and its significance and tape that on. This works well for larger pieces, such as furniture.
Make a Family 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 family heirloom photo album, you can use a traditional picture album or create a digital one on the computer. Either way, plan to have a copy 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 you using the heirloom. Then pair each photo with a story or a few lines of information.
Create a Video Record of Your Family Heirloom
Similar to a photo album, a video record of an heirloom can 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 share your memories about a family heirloom on video, your voice, personality and expressions bring it to life.
You can create your own heirloom video with a friend or family member or hire a professional. Either way, your grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond will love having a visual record of their family heirlooms with you as the host.
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 your heirlooms. Whether you choose to label your treasures with masking tape or record your memories in an album or on video, future generations will cherish a family heirloom more knowing how and why it is part of their family history.
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