5 Things to Do Before Passing Down an Heirloom


Get Your Story Straight

Documenting an heirloom's backstory gives it more sentimental value.
Documenting an heirloom's backstory gives it more sentimental value.
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Archival-quality paper? Check. Pencil? Check. All the details? Oops! If you really want to add value to your heirlooms, record their history for posterity. Of course, this requires clearing the mental fog that often settles over the particulars of how keepsakes came into your possession.

Sure, it's easy to jot down that your sterling silver photo frame was a gift from Aunt Betty, but do you remember why? (Turns out, it was one of few personal items that survived a house fire. Now that's information worth sharing.)

As you make decisions about who will receive each family treasure, use old photographs to prompt your memory or ask other relatives what they recall. By retelling the personal story behind an heirloom -- whose it was originally, why it's steeped in history, the importance of passing it down -- you'll add to its value. Planning ahead allows you the time to really communicate the story of each piece. This, in turn, makes it possible for the keepsake to become part of the next generation's living history. If they want to receive it, that is. If you don't want your gift to become a burden, check out the next page.