You have a favorite necklace that was passed down to you from your grandmother. You realize that no one in your family knows the history of the piece – they don’t know if it was a gift from your grandfather to your grandmother on their 25th anniversary or if she got it from her parents for her 18th birthday. If this information isn’t written down or verbally shared, this important part of your family history may be lost.
Our lives are busy and often we don’t think about these things until someone passes on. Then we realize we wish we had our mom’s recipe for Thanksgiving dressing (stuffing) or apple pie. She made it from scratch and we thought it was written down but no one can find it.
Perhaps this year you can set aside some time to talk to your parents or grandparents about their lives. Ask the questions you always wanted to ask and record or document their answers. If they are willing – use a video camera, digital camera, or iPad to record their stories. There are even books available for grandparents to fill out which would also help guide you with some questions.
Think about an item you have in your possession – where will it be in 30 years? Where would you like for it to be?
Make your wishes known by sharing this information with family members, record it in your will, or tag the item for your loved one. Take time to talk to your family members and find out those special recipes, your family history and traditions.
Realize that personal belongings have different meanings to people. Perhaps you always wanted your grandmother’s handmade quilt. Before she passes on, talk to her about it. She may be thrilled that you honor her work and that you are interested in preserving that memory.
If you have a family reunion or gathering, take time to talk to your family members about special items that you’d like passed on. Find out the family recipes and write them down or see if you can make a copy of your mother or grandmother’s recipe cards. Preserve those memories for future generations.
Remember that everyone has property or possessions to transfer. While you are alive as the “current owner” of the property, you have the legal right to decide who gets what.
Begin now by communicating your goals to your family and talking about which items you want to transfer and how. Take simple steps to ensure that your items are distributed to those you want and your intentions are carried out. Write down or record those pieces of family history – you have something g valuable to pass on to future generations.
“Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” Minnesota Extension Service @ University of Minnesota
Written by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, email@example.com.