Who Gets Nona’s Cameo? Identifying, Protecting, Valuing and Distributing Estate Household Goods and Personal Effects in British Columbia

Oct 17, 2021

Many people possess objects they feel are almost part of themselves. These cherished objects, and the stories they tell, are often bound up with their personal identity and form part of the narrative of how they see themselves as persons in this world. Across the generations, precious objects can symbolize personal meaning, knowledge, values and shared history – for individuals, for families and for society.

The things people own do not die when they die. Wealth, or the value of property, is relatively immortal. Further, personal property with insignificant economic value may have tremendous symbolic value to the testator and beneficiary. Which leads to what estate planning is essentially about: assisting clients to extend their personal identity, life work and accumulated property into the future to outlive their physical selves.

The desire to somehow transcend mortality and sustain one’s identity beyond the grave is both universal and strong. People wish to prepare their property for immortality and feel better when they understand their arrangement, approve of it and thereby prepare to transcend the grave. Clients’ inherent desires to transcend their limited existence by ensuring their property is passed down as they choose is echoed in the phrase we often hear as estate planners: the wish for “peace of mind.”

Of all the critical tasks entrusted to a personal representative, the task of identifying, protecting, valuing and distributing a deceased’s personal property is a fundamental and important one, both legal and symbolic.

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