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Heirloom Archaeology


At an estate sale in the San Diego area an old family photo album was discovered. In it were the pictures of one family that dated back to the 1890s. The only problem is that other than a last name, the identity of the family was not known.

Chris Hodge, who runs a non-profit organization out of Nashville, is trying to discover if the family in the pictures has any living descendants. His hope is to find the descendants and return the photo album to them for free.

CBS 8 reported this story in "Trying to return a family's long lost memories."

Hodge calls what he does "heirloom archaeology." Over the last 15 years his group has returned about 250 items to the families who have lost them.

It is not unusual for heirlooms to accidentally get lost. A house might get sold with items accidentally left in the attic or basement. An item could also be included in an estate sale by accident.

While the efforts of Hodge are commendable, it would be better to make sure your heirlooms do not accidentally get lost by your family. One way to help is to make sure you indicate in an estate plan what your heirlooms are. For example, if an old dresser is a family heirloom, your estate plan could give some details about it and how it came to be in your family’s possession. This lets your heirs know its importance and alerts them to take care of it.

An estate planning attorney can help you mind such details to protect your estate and your family.

Reference: CBS 8 (Feb. 17, 2016) "Trying to return a family's long lost memories."

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