What to do with sentimental property often poses a significant hurdle for many people who create an estate plan. Determining what you want to happen to your money after you are gone is often much easier than determining what you want to happen to those possessions that hold the most personal connection with you and your family. In keeping with our recent discussions on compulsive hoarding, and the difficulties posed by people who have a hoarding problem, today we are going to take a look at how you can more effectively deal with sentimental property through your estate plan.
Sentimental Property Lists
People keep any number of items for sentimental reasons. Whether it is a collection of toys or objects from your childhood, personal items owned by a beloved family member, or collections of items you’ve spent a lifetime acquiring, sentimentally valuable property can be far more difficult to dispose of than items worth a greater dollar value. If you find yourself running into difficulty deciding how to treat this property, the first step is often creating a list of those items that have some emotional attachment. Winnowing down your possessions to a simple list can often allow you to focus on the specific items you want to think more about.
Sentimental Property Stories
Many of the pieces of sentimentally valuable property we own have stories or memories attached to them. A common fear with disposing of these types of items is that, once they are gone, you will lose that memory, or that story will go untold.
To combat this fear, it’s often effective to take one or more photos of the item and then write your memories or stories about it down in a journal or other permanent format. Once you have collected your stories and assembled them in a single place, keeping the physical item associated with those memory is often unnecessary.
Sentimental Property Collections
Another simple way to limit the number of sentimental items you keep is to place them all in a single place, such as a small storage container or wooden box. The box or container itself can become a symbol of the things you cherish, and allowing yourself only a minimal space to keep these items will give you the opportunity to decide what truly is, and is not, important to you.
Distributing sentimental inheritances
If you cannot determine how best to distribute sentimentally valuable property through your estate plan, you can always give the choice up to your estate representative or your family members. Allowing others to determine how best to share your sentimental items, or at least come up with a system that will allow them to do it fairly, is often a lot easier than having to make decisions about each individual item on your own.