Funeral Planning and Family Heirlooms
When funeral planning, it’s common to spend some time sorting through your possessions as well as the possessions of the deceased. This difficult time is often made better by going through memories that you’ve shared as friends and family members, and finding photographs, keepsakes, and hand-written notes is a great way to infuse a positive spin on the mourning process.
Much of the time, this is done before the funeral takes place, since you may want some of these keepsakes and pictures to display at the ceremony or to give to a loved one who will be in attendance. Some families also wait a few weeks in order to have the time they need to sort through items or even to determine who gets what, as determined by the will.
Both situations are just fine, and only you can determine for certain what works best for your family. However, one thing that remains the same regardless of your background and situation is just how precious family heirlooms can be.
What are Family Heirlooms?
By definition, family heirlooms are the keepsakes passed down from generation to generation. Some heirlooms are large (think china cabinet or an antique boudoir), while others are small (as is the case with jewelry). They almost always have sentimental value, if not financial value.
Historically, family heirlooms were passed down from parent to child in accordance with family tradition. For example, a beloved rocking chair might pass down female lines, while more valuable furniture might go through the male line. However, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to sacred family possessions, and if no indication has been made of who will get what item, tensions can run deep. This is especially true if the death was a difficult or sudden one, and everyone is dealing with the emotional ramifications of losing the one they love.
Family heirlooms can also be a tricky subject to navigate when there are very valuable items from a money standpoint. Some of these items will be subjected to inheritance taxes, and it’s not uncommon for entire families to be torn apart when no clear indication of who will be bequeathed which item.
Planning for Family Heirlooms
One way in which many individuals work out these issues is to take care of family heirlooms while funeral planning. Traditionally, advance funeral planning is all about making sure payments have been made to the funeral home or decisions regarding burial arrangements are already firmly in place. However, some people choose to use this time to make decisions regarding living wills, traditional wills, and bequeathing family heirlooms.
Although it might seem a little macabre to decide who gets what after your passing, you can save your family a lot of grief by making your wishes clear in a formal document or funeral pre plan. Another increasingly popular choice is to hand down the important items in the years or even decades prior to your death. This way, you not only get to ensure that the item goes where it needs to go, but you often get the pleasure of watching family tradition take shape before your eyes.
Death is rarely an easy subject to bring up or face head-on, but planning a funeral and making decisions about family heirlooms is a great way to have the difficult discussions and move on with your life. Once everything has been settled, you and your family are free to enjoy your lives and all the traditions and joys that it holds.
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By Amy Johnson