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Family heirlooms often burden for younger generations

Antique furniture, fine china, photographs, coin collection. This list of possessions is one that many baby boomers stand to inherit as their parents die or are forced to move into nursing homes. While the belongings of many in their 80s and 90s are indeed old and historic, they hold little financial or sentimental value for the generations that stand to inherit such possessions.

As the parents of baby boomers die, an estimated $8.4 trillion in assets will be transferred to younger generations. Many of those who pass were born and grew up during the Great Depression, at a time when any and every possession was precious. As such, individuals of this generation often held on to everything which may become a burden for younger generations.

Many baby boomers simply don't have the space to hang on to their parents' possessions. Baby boomers in their 60s often already have a house full of possessions they've amassed over the years. Attempts to give away grandma or great-grandma's fine china to younger generations also typically prove fruitless. Those in their 20s and 30s often don't have the space for or interest in keeping such possessions despite their perceived value.

As homeless collections of fine china and doll collections continue to flood the marketplace, the value of such once-prized possession is also likely to diminish. Younger generations seem to value experience over possessions so for these individuals money and the opportunities it affords to travel and "experience" life often trump any worldly possession.

While some may think it sad that the significance of historical artifacts and belongings seem lost on younger generations, it may be a matter of perspective. In an attempt to ensure some family heirlooms stay in the family, older generations would be wise to share stories related to such belongings with those of younger generations.

Source: Source:  Star Tribune, “No longer saved for generations, family heirlooms are being shed,” Kim Palmer, April 22, 2013

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