5 Things to Do Before Passing Down an Heirloom


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Your granddaughter may value that necklace she played with when she was little.
Your granddaughter may value that necklace she played with when she was little.
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You'll be tempted to make a few assumptions when gifting your precious goods. But before you do, find out what the recipients remember about the items you'd like to give them. It's entirely possible you'll be surprised.

The objects people associate with value -- most often because the objects were at the center of shared experiences -- may be far different than what you might expect. An ordinary Mason jar that served as a seasonal home to freshly cut garden roses may not be at the top of your "most valuable possession" list, but to your daughter, it may be the source of some great memories. The same goes for dad's baseball mitt.

Remember, too, that what one person may love, another may shun. So don't give the Mason jar to your son who hated pruning rosebushes throughout his childhood, especially if his sister is the one who wants it. That's where your conversation skills come into play. Guide your kids through a preemptive discussion about what they really want. Odds are, they'll help you figure out how to divvy your possessions among them -- or even devise a way to share. A diamond pendant, for example, can be traded between sisters each holiday so that each one may wear it for a year at a time. The system may be unusual, but at least it's fair.

If you're holding back a few giveaways for later, make sure they'll stand the test of time. We've got a few tips for preserving heirlooms on the next page.