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Family Heirlooms, Not Money, Most Important To Heirs

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/23/13)--Money isn't everything. Only 9% of baby boomers are eager to get their hands on inherited money. And only 14% of people age 72 or older think financial assets are the most important bequests (MarketWatch.com Dec. 16).
 
Surprisingly, boomers would rather inherit a personal keepsake or family story than inherit money. According to a survey conducted for Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, 86% of boomers and 74% of those age 72 years or older say keeping their family history alive is most important.
 
But simply splitting up family heirlooms can breed enough discord to shake up even the closest families. To avoid potential problems, consider the following, according to MarketWatch.com:
  • Choose an executor; consider hiring a professional: Having a family member act as executor can cause hard feelings and lead to arguments. Choosing someone not in your immediate family such as a niece or good friend might be better than choosing one child or another. Hiring a professional, who doesn't have any family ties, also might be a smart move.
  • Talk about it: Parents can take steps while they're alive to help prevent sibling quarrels after they're gone. Talk as a family about what special items you'd like family members to have. Some people even go as far as placing sticky notes on the bottom of things to designate who gets certain items.
  • Document it: The best gift you can give your kids is being organized about your assets and documenting your wishes. Your estate plan should include a will, a financial power of attorney in case you're incapacitated, a health-care power of attorney, and a living will that states your wishes in regard to end-of-life care. Also consider setting up and funding a trust.
  • Act while alive: If you have a "favorite" grandchild or niece or nephew, consider doing something special for that person now instead of after your death. Family members may feel slighted if a favorite is made apparent in a will.
For more information about inheritances, read "'Dibs on Dad's Watch!' Splitting Family Property" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.