Special Bequests and Family Heirlooms

When you divide up your assets in your Will, sometimes it takes more than a calculator.


Sure, if you're leaving behind only cash and liquid assets, you can get away with simply crunching the numbers. But even the most complex math can't factor in sentimental value.


Monetary vs. Sentimental Value

Try dividing a grandfather clock, originally hand-carved by your great-grandfather, which has value both as an antique and sentimental value, into three parts.


It just isn't possible. The same is true for heirloom jewellery, ornaments and works of art.


One of the great benefits of having a carefully drafted Will is that you can decide who will receive your precious personal things. 


Here are some tips for dividing these types of assets:


Discuss the items with the people concerned

Sometimes an item that you think one family member adores actually means very little to him or her. Or you may discover that something that you attach very little value to is actually treasured by another family member.


Discuss these things with your family in advance. You'll avoid many disputes this way.


Use a lawyer to prepare your Will

Some family members will express their wishes verbally or by leaving little notes or marks written on the items themselves. This can lead to further disputes, even if the notes are clear, because they may not be legally binding.


The solution is to carefully draft a Will that is legally binding. However, despite your best intentions, a mistake in the way you express them can create problems.


A lawyer knows how to make your intentions clear—and legally binding. He or she will also help with more complex matters. For example, what would happen if the person you want to give the grandfather clock to dies before you? The lawyer can help you plan for these eventualities.
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