When to Sell Family Heirlooms

When to Sell Family Heirlooms

I don’t inherit a lot of stuff because my family is small. But when someone passes away, it means that the rest of us inherit a lot of heirlooms (because my family is small). As such, I’ve had to figure out what to do with a lot of items that I inherited but did not buy myself. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to keep or get rid of something you’ve inherited. After all it belonged to someone you probably loved and miss a lot. Should you keep it, sell it, or give it away? Here’s how I decide.


1)    Did the Person I Inherited it From Love the Thing? Perhaps, more significantly, do I associate that thing with them strongly? Items like this include my grandfather’s smoking pipe, my dad’s nice reading glasses, my grandmom’s bowling ball that she used every Thursday from her 40’s through retirement. These things have a special place in my heart. When I see them, they take me back to that person that I loved and let me nurse the melancholy and joy that I still feel for them. I get rid of most of the other things that remind me of the person, but not in such a personal way.

2)    Is the Item Valuable? Very often I find that the most expensive items command the least sentimental value. The rare coin I inherited from my father wasn’t a prized possession. It was an investment, meant to be sold when it had gained value. There are some notable exceptions, like my mother’s stately oak chest which I’m sure I could get $500 for. It is valuable sentimentally and monetarily. Thankfully my mom is young and healthy, so I don’t need anything to remind me of her. But when she’s gone, I think I’ll always keep this piece, no matter what it’s worth to someone else. Oftentimes, the most emotionally valuable pieces (photos, books, journals) aren’t of any value to the outside world anyway. When things are valuable, like jewelry and currency, I use either a Beverly Hills Diamond & Jewelry Purchaser or the San Francisco Diamond Buyer near my home.

3)    Do I Have Room or Purpose for the Thing? I have a very small house with limited storage. I’m not going to cram it full of things that have sentimental value but that I do not use. I’m also not going to pay for external storage. So if it’s no use to me or I don’t have room, it’s got to go. So went my grandmother’s enormous fur coat. So went grandpa’s Indian brand motorcycle. I know they loved these things, but they were not of especial significance to me, and what’s more I had no room. So someone else got to enjoy them the way they were meant to be enjoyed.


Once you’ve gone through this list, you should have a very manageable list of items that you want to keep for the long haul. These few heirlooms can remind you of the family you miss and love, without cluttering your home.