Share Your Stories to Make Those Family Heirlooms Truly Priceless

As an estate planning lawyer in Cornwall and area, I have discussions with clients all the time about the assets they will leave behind to their loved ones after they pass away – their investments, their real estate, and their personal items in their home. Although personal items normally have the lowest monetary value, these items are often priceless to certain people.

When I talk to clients about their wills and estate planning, I stress the importance of leaving a legacy for your loved ones that is about more than just the money in the bank and the “stuff”. The stories that people have to tell are equally important and should be captured and shared. It is the telling of your stories that creates sentimental value in a personal item and makes that item a family heirloom, whether it be valuable in monetary terms or not. This was recently made very clear to me.

Allinotte Law Office has expanded, and with the expansion, things are looking a little empty and the walls seem bare. I need some art work and prints to cover these bare spaces. Conveniently, my parents have just done some work at their house and have taken some of their pieces down and were looking to store them or get rid of them. So I went to take a look to see what might work at my office. I walked away with some items that are very special to me and to my family.

Two of the pieces were crocheted doilies that my mother had framed several years ago. These doilies were made by my maternal great-grandmother when she was a girl in the Netherlands. My great-grandmother passed away in her nineties over twenty years ago, so these items are likely close to a century old. My daughter is named after my great-grandmother, so I will pass these pieces on to her when she is older.

The other two items that are priceless to me are two charcoal sketches that belonged to my maternal grandfather. They were sketched in the early 1940s and are of a mine and a castle in the Netherlands. Although I will likely never see the places in the sketches (if they are even still standing), looking at them makes me feel closer to my grandfather. My son has the same name as my grandfather (although he is actually named after his great-grandfather on his father’s side, but that is another story!), so I will likely give these sketches to him later in life.

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing (and filling up the empty spaces), I now have these pieces that I will see every day that belonged to my relatives who are no longer with us. They are family heirlooms to me and I will treasure them. But if I didn’t know the stories behind them, I could have easily passed them over. At one time, the doilies were yellowed and folded up somewhere and those charcoal sketches were in a drawer or a box. So I thank my mother for sharing the stories about these items with me. I encourage you to look around at your important possessions and to share the stories about them with your loved ones so they too can see that these items are priceless.

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Michele R.J. Allinotte is the owner of Allinotte Law Office in Cornwall, Ontario and she helps her clients make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their businesses. Her practice focuses on the areas of business law, estates and estate planning and real estate. Visit to get her FREE Peace of Mind Personal Inventory to make sure that your family has all the information they need.