A Guide To The Most Commonly Inherited Items

Matt Black

“I hereby gift, devise and bequeath the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate to…”

Unfortunately, when loved ones pass, the process of grief and the settling of their estate runs hand-in-hand.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take ahead of time to save yourself, or your family a lot of time and effort.

To make matters easier, we’ve put together this Ultimate Guide of What To Do with the Most Commonly Inherited items. 


PETS

“What’s gonna happen to Fluffy?!” Whether you like your loved one’s pet or not, it certainly was of value to them. 

Unfortunately, a majority of people miss this one in their will, which means the executor of the estate will make the ultimate decision as to who gets the furry family loved one(s). So if you’re the executor of an estate, you should ask yourself if you want to be the one who adopts Fluffy.


JEWELRY

In some cultures, jewelry is the greatest asset a loved one can pass on. Decisions will have to be made however, if you want to keep it, wear it, or have it made into something else.

If you want to sell the valuable family heirlooms, secure it immediately, and get an appraisal prior to selling.


RECIPES

Losing a loved one hurts the heart, and if they were the family’s best cook then it hurts the stomach too. This one is quite easy, fortunately, as recipes can be copied and shared among family members. 

However, if it’s an actual recipe book, hopefully your loved one specified in their will who gets it.


DIGITAL ASSETS

If you haven’t thought about inheriting digital assets, then you’re confronting the biggest inheritance problem of the 21st century. Hopefully, your loved one left you passwords so you can close their Facebook account. However, digital assets can also include stocks, or cryptocurrency, making them difficult to access.

In that case, experts recommend setting up a block chain with private access for executors. Either way, get it done fast, as identity theft of the deceased (called “ghosting”) is on the rise.


GARDEN, PLANTS AND FLOWERS

Most of the time, your loved one’s garden will come with the house they pass on. But in other cases, someone might pass on trees or rose bushes, perhaps because they have sentimental value, or have been in the family for generations. 

If you don’t plan on keeping their house, that’s not a problem. It’s very common for folks to hire specialists to move their favorite garden treasures to their own homes.


HEIRLOOMS AND QUILTS

When it comes to family heirlooms or quilts, many times the items hold little monetary value, but are no less important to family members. This is tricky, and hopefully they’re specified in the will, or some sort of agreement ahead of time. If not, then you’ll have to get creative. 

Follow the steps this family took to make sure that everyone was happy with what they received.


FURNITURE

“Integrating a family heirloom adds warmth and history,” said a West Hollywood interior designer. Well, this one is a personal decision, whether you want to keep it, sell it or give it away to charity. If it’s an antique (over 100 years old) then get an appraiser. 

Just remember, if it’s labeled with Herman Miller, Knoll, Dunbar, Bernhardt Baker, Brown Saltman, or Widdicomb, or is made of bronze, brass, solid walnut, solid maple, or marble, try to find a home for it.


COINS

Coins tickle the fancy of some collectors, and for others it’s a nuisance. Regardless, old coins either hold their value, or appreciate. Whether you’re looking to sell or not, it’s a good idea to get an appraisal to determine which ones are of value, and which ones will help you make  exact change on your next purchase. We recommend these resources to find a trusted coin appraiser:

 • NGC dealer list 

 • American Numismatic Association (ANA) member 

 • Professional Numismatist Guild (PNG) member


CARS

Cars require more paperwork than most commonly inherited items, but there are ways to get around it. If a car has been willed to you, you’ll need to transfer the title into your name, which will require you providing a Letter of Testamentary (which could require probate), and about a half-dozen other steps and documents before the car is yours.

If you want an easier way, sell the car through the estate prior to transferring the title. This way you make a profit, avoid the headache and most of the paperwork falls upon the buyer.


DEBT

If only you could give or sell this one away. Well, it’s not all bad, as laws have been enacted that prevent debt from being passed down generations (in most cases). But before you cross this off the list, there are some steps which must be taken to settle your loved one’s debt, such as publishing a notice to creditors informing them of their passing.

Follow these steps in Atticus’ “What To Do When Someone Dies - The 2020 Checklist,” for all steps associated with settling an estate (TLDR: Check out #18 for more info about settling debt).


HOMES

The process for inheriting a house does involve many steps, but is so common that most have been streamlined. Commonly, folks inheriting houses will have to consider three options of what to do with the house: rent, sell or move in. 

Most laws are advantageous for selling, but this can be complicated if the house was left to multiple people. Follow this guide, “What Happens When You Inherit a House,” to help you figure out your next move.


JUNK

It’s very rare that folks specify “junk” in their wills, but unfortunately, it’s all too common that the “junk” exists, and has to be dealt with. First of all, don’t go it alone on this one, as you’ll need help sorting and moving it. If it has to move fast, get a storage unit to buy you time to divide it up.

Junk haulers are easy to come by if you want to trash it, but otherwise, carve out time to sort through everything to find out if there’s anything of monetary, or sentimental value.


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