Making provisions in your Will for family heirlooms

Antique plate

Last summer we were fortunate enough to see a wonderful array of family heirlooms when we hosted an antique valuation afternoon tea at Crowcombe Court. Many items had enormous family significance, others had been uncovered amongst long ago discarded items.

As a partner in the Wills & Probate team, my thoughts turned more as to whether provision had been made for those items in the owner’s Will. The disposal of chattels following a bereavement can often be the tipping point on already strained family relations.

Common problems occur when one member of the family believes they have been promised something in particular but nothing has been documented. Stronger siblings can take over when it comes to dividing personal effects or those more local may have decided to help themselves before those further away have had a chance to consider a division. A more timid beneficiary may not want to speak out whilst others may be more vocal. The end result can often be resentment and bad feeling which lasts for years.

To avoid this, the most sensible approach is to make a simple list setting out your wishes in respect of family memorabilia and heirlooms. When drafting Wills we, as Will specialists, can simply refer to the Memorandum of Wishes meaning the list can be altered without the need to change your Will. Ideally the list should be placed with your Will and your instructions should be clear.

The other advantage of putting your wishes into a memorandum is, if the item has been sold or gifted more than seven years previously, there will be no reference to it in the Will which, in turn, can be scrutinised by the Revenue.

Even if you don’t have any items of particular value, do carefully consider the contents of your Will. The distribution of chattels upon death can be the most common reason for family disputes and one easily avoided with planning.

We are happy to talk everything through with you so that you can have peace of mind that your affairs are in order.

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