Family Heirlooms

Family heirlooms can be just about anything, as long as there is monetary or sentimental value attached. As heirlooms get passed down over time, their mystique grows. In this section we'll examine everything to do with passing down heirlooms and receiving them.


We pass-on what we prize. So what heirlooms do we value most? Here's our Top 10.

Deciding how to hand down sentimental treasures can be tricky business, but it doesn't have to be. How can planning ahead and talking to family make the passing down process go smoothly?

From valuable family jewelry to personal pregnancy mementos, some of the best heirlooms are best set aside before kids come along. What special items can you put away for your kids?

It's not uncommon to inherit your grandmother's pearls, but what all if you really want are all the sky miles she's accumulated -- or her sense of justice? People don't frequently will these five intangible and unusual things, but they really should!

Heirlooms are intended to honor family and tradition. But there's no honor in having a family squabble over material objects after the death of a loved one. Here are 5 tips aimed at preserving peace and the family legacy.

"Son, someday, these mummified remains will be yours." It's not something you hear every day. Most people end up with Grandpa's pocket watch, a set of china or a ruby brooch from the roaring '20s. What are five of the strangest family heirlooms?

Vintage jewelry has character and style, but it's also, well, old. Here are some ways to update a well-worn piece while preserving its charm.

If you're a reader, or if you just like books, there's money and a treasure trove of historical significance in old tomes. But how do you keep them in top condition?

When you stumble across a treasure trove of old home movies, your first instinct might be to watch them right away -- or have them converted immediately into DVDs. But wait, you could be causing irreparable damage.

If your grandmother's funny stories or recipe tweaks mean more to you than her outdated sideboard, you have a potential heirloom on your hands. How can you preserve and share intangible heirlooms with your family?

One man's trash is another man's heirloom, so it makes sense to put some thought into the way you split your estate. How do you decide who gets what, and how do you make sure your wishes are carried out?

Half-rotted wagon wheels. A blackened old butter churn. Mysterious bullets. Our families pass down strange things, and though we suspect they're valuable, we can't stand the sight of them. Could a historical society make better use of our eyesores?

Families everywhere have heirlooms they treasure, but sometimes people decide to give a precious piece of their history to a museum. What should you do if you want a family heirloom preserved for generations to see?

Most home insurance covers buildings and contents -- that's your roof, walls, appliances and even personal possessions like electronics. But what about your heirloom emerald ring, or your grandfather's Picasso? How do you value and protect your most priceless possessions?

Like breaking up with someone or resigning from your job, requesting an heirloom is one of the most delicate conversations you'll ever have. How do you ask someone who's old, sick or dying for one of his or her belongings?

Every family has a story, and most have enough of them to make the kids ask for permission to go outside and play. But when it comes time to pass along the family history, this generation has taken the oral tradition to the digital age.

Preserving a piece of family history is about more than restoring the shine of a material possession. It's about safeguarding the stories behind the heirloom. We'll guide you through the rewarding process.

If you've got antique family papers or photos, you don't want to just leave them lying around. What's the best way to put up (or put away) all those old documents without damaging them?

In the age of digital photography, it's hard to think about caring for tangible photographs. Brittle old photos need to be stored properly if they're going to last, so make a commitment to preserving your family's photographic legacy. Here's how.

Heirloom furniture has been passed down to you from a relative, perhaps through several generations of your family. That chest or sofa or armoire is something valuable, whether it's measured in sentiment or money. How do you ensure it lives a long, happy life in your home?

Your kids probably got your long eyelashes and button nose, but you want to give them more to help them remember you when you're gone. What if you don't have any heirloom-quality possessions? What should you pass down?

You love "Antiques Roadshow," the beloved PBS program that's been on the air since 1996. And you have prized Hummel figurine that you think might be valuable. You want to be on the show, but how do you know if your heirloom is worth taking on air?

Depending on the family, Mom's lace tablecloth, the one she used every Thanksgiving, is an heirloom to be lovingly treasured or fought over for years. How do you keep siblings from feuding over bequests?

It might be a gold watch, a tattered dress, or even a piece of string, but a family heirloom has an intrinsic value. It also says something about you. What does it say? We'll take a look.

You're ecstatic to discover that your late uncle bequeathed you the keys to his classic car. But you're a little less excited to find the rusting automobile propped up on cinderblocks. What do you do now?

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