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I am in my 80’s and in possession of a fair amount of nice jewelry. At this point in my life, I am thinking about what will become of this jewelry when I pass.

I have four children and 10 grandchildren at present. I think that soon I will have great grandchildren. I would like my children to have my jewelry, but do not know best how to distribute it. Of course, I only have one piece of each, and the values vary, as one would expect.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do I place each item in my will, give away now, sell the items, or what?


Jewelry is one of the more difficult things to distribute when a person no longer desires to keep it or after your lifetime. As you mentioned each piece is unique, the values differ, and it may not have held its value over time. There is also a strong sentimental value to many pieces of jewelry.

We also tend not to have it sitting about and visible, (unless you are royalty and have a room and cases just for jewels). Pieces you have not worn in years are out of your mind at this point. It tends to stay in boxes, drawers, and cases not seen for years.

Since you are thinking about it now, it is a good time to take action. You have choices to make in the direction you take and doing so while healthy and interested is best. Here are the steps that I recommend you consider:

· Make a simple list of each piece you want to include. I would list first the insured pieces, then those that are 14k gold or higher, and lastly those of sentimental value. There will be pieces left over that are costume or of minimal value.

· List approximate value next to each item. If insured, you can use the value from your insurance policy. That is usually what it was purchased for. Your jeweler can assist with specific pieces if you have a trusted one.

· Next take a picture of each with your phone.

· Now for the big decision, place in your will, gift now, or make a list for distribution later. If the pieces are of significant value, your estate is very large, and your will is a four-way split the jewelry could become more complicated upon your death. It is then you need legal and accounting advice.

· I would ask each child to identify pieces that they like. Maybe ask each one to select 20 pieces that they might some day like to have. Then you can assign those pieces fairly for distribution now or later. I would try to keep the values gifted reasonably close.

· Speak to your estate lawyer first and then let your children know what your decision is.

It is a wonderful gift you are considering by planning for your jewelry to be redistributed. It can be done thoughtfully and with great meaning if done while you are healthy and have the stamina to do so. I applaud you for planning for the future.

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

RN / CEO - Emeritus

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