A hallmark of a life well lived is knowing that we will be missed when we’re gone. But hopefully, memories of happy times will bring comfort and smiles to our loved ones. Sometimes a personal item can bring back memories in an instant. An antique plate used for that delicious coconut rum glazed cake each Thanksgiving. Or a colorful hand woven wool rug brought back from a vacation in New Mexico.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Making sure that our favorite things go to the people who will most appreciate them is a first step in the estate planning process. Over the years, it’s easy to collect all sorts of things. Not too surprisingly, much of what we own ends up out of sight in the basement, the attic, closets, or even rented storage space. After a while, many of us may forget exactly what we have. Yet, it’s vital to know precisely what you have in order to properly plan your estate.
When you start going through it all, you may decide to start throwing some of the junk away, having a yard sale or giving gifts to family, friends, or even charities while you’re still alive. But before making decisions about what is junk or who to give lifetime gifts, you might want to consider a few things. An article on Forbes’ website gives some helpful hints.
Seek Expert Advice: What you consider junk could actually be a highly coveted and valuable vintage item. Research what you can yourself. But if you’re not sure about something, contact an appraiser, an auction house or another trained professional. You don’t want to see a news story about someone making their fortune by selling a hidden treasure they found at your yard sale!
Think About Tax Implications: Depending upon the value of the gift, you might have to file a gift tax return. Do you want to give your niece the $20,000 ruby and diamond bracelet now? You could lend it to her to wear on special occasions and bequeath it to her in your will. Speak to a tax or legal professional about which options work best for you.
Starting The Conversation
While this is not everything you need to consider, it’s a start. Thinking about drafting a will and facing mortality is emotionally charged. We all handle it differently. Inviting a friend or family member over to help you start sorting through your belongings might be a way to begin talking about end-of-life plans. It’s also a way to connect with loved ones now, while you still have time to make new memories.
By: Lisa C. Johnson, Esq.