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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > What to Leave to Your Family Instead of Stuff

What to Leave to Your Family Instead of Stuff


As the saying goes, you don’t know what you had until it’s gone.  Think about the things you wish you could ask your grandparents if they were still here, or the things you are relieved that you still have.  Do you still have family photographs of ancestors that no one in your generation is old enough to have met?  If so, how much context do you know about those photographs?  Reconstructing those stories is a challenge, to say the least.  Yes, our generation has it easier, since, thanks to DNA testing, we might be able to find distant relatives who are also descended from the folks in the daguerreotypes in our photo albums and who know more about them than we do.  You might have a handwritten recipe for lemon meringue pie that your mother wrote down based on the techniques that her mother taught her, but if it doesn’t quite taste the same when you make it, don’t you wish you could ask her for more details about it?  Yes, you can help your family by passing down generational wealth, and your estate plan probably already does this as much as your means allow.  You can also help them by passing down your family’s intangible heritage, which is priceless.  A Bronx estate planning lawyer can help you cover the basics of your estate plan so that you can devote more time to passing on your knowledge to future generations.

Personal Property Depreciates in Value, but Intangible Heritage Does Not

Just as the United Nations has designated certain natural and architectural wonders as World Heritage Sites, so it has designated certain artistic and musical traditions as Intangible Cultural Heritage.  Examples include styles of textile weaving, music, culinary traditions, and folk tales specific to certain regions.  Your family probably has its own intangible heritage in the form of family history and family recipes.  It is worthwhile to write these down and to document them in videos or audio recordings; record yourself singing the songs your parents used to sing to you when you were a child, even if they are in a language that your grandchildren do not easily understand.  Think of it as a non-materialistic holiday gift to give to family members who are just a little bit younger than you and therefore old enough to appreciate your family’s intangible cultural heritage.

This endeavor may help you and your family gain clarity about which items of personal property will be the most valuable to them.  Some of the clutter will show its true colors as physical manifestations of intangible cultural heritage.  An ounce of archiving your family’s intangible cultural heritage is worth a pound of decluttering.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you get started on your estate plan to free up space in your mind for documenting your intangible cultural heritage.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.



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