Don't underestimate sentimental value when estate planning

When making a will, people in Quincy may initially think of how they're going to distribute their big-ticket items, such as their house, automobiles, stocks and bank accounts. However, they should not underestimate pieces of personal property that, while they might not have a great deal of actual value, have a great deal of sentimental value.

No one wants to see the administration of their estate held up because their heirs are fighting over personal property that wasn't accounted for in the will. For example, items such as photographs, tchotchkes or hand-written notes may not be worth much if put up for sale, but they may be very meaningful to a person's heirs. It can help, when estate planning, to ask your loved ones what personal property they'd like to inherit and then include those requests in your estate plan. Also, keep in mind that more intangible assets, such as a Facebook account or reward points may also be handed down to a particular heir.

This leads to the next point -- if you promise to leave a piece of property to an heir, make sure to do so in writing. Otherwise it might not be clear who is to inherit it, which could lead to fights between family members. After all the details are important. For example, vaguely leaving all "personal property" to one heir with the expectation that the heir will then dole out the property to others is no guarantee that your intended heirs will get what you want them to get.

Some people in Massachusetts may share a safe deposit box with a loved one. However, an estate plan should clearly state who is to inherit the property in the safe deposit box. Just because the safe deposit box is jointly leased doesn't mean the contents therein are jointly owned. Also, sometimes certain steps need to be taken before some possessions, such as a gun, can be passed on. Finally, make sure that you instruct the executor of your estate to lock up your house once you pass on to avoid heirs going in and simply helping themselves to your possessions.

In the end, sometimes it is not the most valuable assets that cause the most trouble without proper estate planning. In the end, having a thorough and detailed estate plan can save a lot of headaches and heartache once you pass.

Source: CNBC, "7 ways that cheap Tweety Bird figurine can screw up your estate," Kelli B. Grant, Oct. 10, 2017

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