Lift the Burden
You may love the old piano currently commanding most of your living room real estate, but odds are your niece living in a studio apartment won't. Even with all the soggy sentimental feelings associated with your best stuff, there are a few practical considerations.
First, figure out whether your children (or whomever you have in mind) will appreciate an heirloom as you'd hoped -- or if they'll simply accept it out of obligation. So ask. And be prepared for the answer. After all, you don't want your heirloom to become a burden. Unless you're the passive aggressive type, but that's a different list altogether.
Next, apply a few stringent criteria. If the item hasn't been especially valuable to you since you've owned it, then it's time to jettison. Part of the keepsake pass-down process is clearly identifying why an item is of value -- intrinsic or otherwise.
If you're holding onto a rare collector item that no one wants to claim, donate it to a local historical society. C'mon, wouldn't it be really satisfying to watch your family keepsake become woven into the area's account of days gone by? If you've got dueling relatives all clambering for a singular treasure, we've got a solution for that, too, on the next page.