Estate Planning: Tips to Ensure your Jewelry Ends up with Loved Ones
Estate planning is often a dreaded task that many do not want to face. The thought of sitting down and divvying up your assets to loved ones can be very stressful and emotional. Oftentimes, valuable and sentimental items such as jewelry can end up in the wrong hands if there isn’t a plan set in place. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out our top estate planning tips to ensure your jewelry ends up with you who you want it to.
Edit your Collection
The first of our estate planning tips is to declutter your jewelry. If you’re like most people who love jewelry then you probably have quite a bit in your collection. Decluttering your jewelry can help identify what pieces you would like to pass on versus pieces that you no longer need or want. If you come across jewelry that is valuable but isn’t sentimental, you can choose to include the items in your will, give them away to family and friends now, or sell them.
Itemize your Inventory
After you’ve decluttered your jewelry collection, the next step is to itemize your inventory. Itemizing your jewelry inventory will ensure all your valuable and sentimental jewelry is accounted for. Separate your jewelry into categories: rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. Once categorized, you’ll need to document your jewelry collection. There are a variety of ways to account for your jewelry including:
- Handwritten list
- Photo album
- Home inventory software
Include important details such as:
- Jewelry type
- Description (carat, cut, clarity, etc)
- Latest appraisal value
- Date of ownership
- Unique identifiers (family heirloom, class ring, etc.)
Meet with Family Members Individually
Invite loved ones to look over your jewelry collection. This will give you a good idea of what items are meaningful to each person. You may not have known that your daughter liked a certain necklace or your son desired your coin collection. This process will also allow you to tell the stories behind your favorite pieces that you may have not had a chance to tell previously, and that in itself is valuable.
Gather Important Documents
Having important documents readily available and included with your jewelry will ensure the recipient receives all the necessary documentation that goes along with the jewelry. Types of documents to include are:
- Purchase receipt
- GIA or AGS lab report
One of the most important estate planning tips on our list is to be specific when writing jewelry into your will or living trust. While we never want loved ones to fight over our belongings, unfortunately, it happens. Simply writing in your will for example, “I leave all my jewelry to be equally shared by my three children” might cause conflict when it comes time to divvy it up. Instead, be specific about which items should go to each person. You can even include this on your itemized inventory list, but also be sure it is included in your will. Some states allow you to include a separate list of items and who you want to inherit them. This document is called a “property memorandum.”
Communicate your Wishes
Communicating your desires to your loved ones beforehand can help alleviate any conflict that may arise when it’s time to divide your valuables. This also gives you a moment to explain why it’s important to you that a loved one receives a particular item. While this verbal conversation isn’t legally binding, it is likely it will leave an impact on family members and may prevent conflict in the future. If you don’t feel comfortable having the conversation, you can always write a letter or communicate your desires to the executor of the state.
Other ways to Leave Jewelry to your Loved Ones
If the idea of choosing a loved one to receive certain items of jewelry makes you uneasy or if you have a lot of family members, you can choose other ways for your loved ones to receive your valuables such as:
- Letting the executor decide who gets what
- Setting a monetary value for each recipient
- Letting the recipients bid on each item and have the money be paid to the estate.
Having a well organized inventory of your jewelry can help determine which items are sentimental and valuable that you would like to pass on. Being specific and communicating your wishes to loved ones will ensure your jewelry ends with who you want it to.