Are Passing Down Family Heirlooms a Thing of the Past?

Greenwald Gerke


May 4, 2021

A Shift in Generational Values

When retirees are working through their estate plans and “rightsize” into a smaller home, it’s common to have the desire to share heirlooms with children and grandchildren. Storage spaces are often filled with collectibles and other items of sentimental value. Older generations want to pass these things onto the next two generations, but family members don’t hold the same sentiments about the items.

Even though these items were treasures – especially for people who grew up in lean years because of the depression and war – younger family members have no sentimental attachment to the things. Also, many people are short on storage space at home, so they probably don’t have much room to take the items.

Collecting items in the past was a sign of wealth and prosperity. Now, many people are valuing a simple lifestyle. We see a significant shift away from materialism. Millennials aren’t interested in collecting things; instead, they focus their priorities and resources on experiences.

Who Will Accept These Gifts?

Even retirees with large families are finding it challenging to give their stuff away. They desire to downsize furniture, antiques, silver, artwork, and china plates – items that they have accumulated through the course of a lifetime.

What should you do if heirs don’t want the heirlooms? One option is to donate or sell the items, then distribute the money to the family or donate to a charitable cause. It’s worth the time and effort to sell high-value heirlooms, such as artwork and jewelry. Smaller trinkets and low-value household items can be donated or discarded.

Holding onto Memories – Not Stuff

If you are concerned that family members don’t want to accept these heirlooms, then shift your thinking to see the things that matter most: memories and time together. Family members love having the treasure of photographs, videos, and experiences. You can share these memorable events.

At Greenwald & Gerke, our team helps families with the details of life and logistics in retirement. If you need support, then talk to us about finding your perfect retirement lifestyle: (844) 782-9674.

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Greenwald Gerke

Greenwald & Gerke Realty Team


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San Diego, CA 92130

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