Philip Bernstein’s blog, The New York Probate Litigation Blog (catchy title!), reported here on this interesting New York Times article discussing one family’s thoughtful approach to planning for the ultimate distribution of family heirlooms from one generation to the next. Here’s what Phil had to say about the article:

The significance that family members may attach to relatively insignificant possessions can easily lead to huge disputes in the settling of an estate. An article by Margaret McCaffrey in the December 8th New York Times deals with this subject in humanistic rather than legalistic terms. Nevertheless, Ms McCaffrey’s suggestions on how to anticipate and defuse the conflicts that can arise when adult children battle over the same item of jewelry or furniture can have a positive effect not only on the way in which family members treat each other after losing a parent or grandparent but also can reduce the chances that arguments over possessions may lead to more serious and more expensive legal conflicts.

In Florida, under 2004->Ch0732->Section%20515#0732.515″>F.S. § 732.515, parents can create “separate written statements” to dispose of family heirlooms. These statements must be referred to in your will, but they can be revised as often as you’d like without the signing formalities required for a will. All in all, a convenient tool that helps families avoid disputes over who gets the family china.