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the-moneyist:-my-mother-is-giving-away-my-late-grandmother’s-jewelry.-is-it-ok-to-accept-a-piece-from-her-collection-—-and-then-sell-it?
the-moneyist:-my-mother-is-giving-away-my-late-grandmother’s-jewelry.-is-it-ok-to-accept-a-piece-from-her-collection-—-and-then-sell-it?

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The Moneyist: My mother is giving away my late grandmother’s jewelry. Is it OK to accept a piece from her collection — and then sell it?

Dear Quentin,

My grandmother recently passed away, and the will did not mention her jewelry. 

My mom is trying to decide what to do with my grandma’s jewelry. She wants to be fair, but is having a hard time deciding what is fair. No one else who is next of kin wants the jewelry. The next family in line to offer it to are my siblings and me. 

There are enough pieces of jewelry to divide among all of us grandkids. Should my mother offer each grandkid a piece of jewelry even if they sell it, or should the jewelry be offered only to those who want it for sentimental value and will keep it? What is the etiquette surrounding this?

Laura

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Laura,

Some people obsess over buying jewelry, while others simply give it away. 

As with all such mementos, your mother is correct in wanting these pieces to go to a home that will treasure the item, appreciate their sentimental value, and also understand what they represent. These jewels embody not only a price tag but also your grandmother’s sense of style, the weight of memories of all the occasions where they were worn, and how they made her feel when she wore them.

Your mother is now looking at distributing the jewelry to your family members over immediate beneficiaries because others have been offered the jewelry and passed on the chance. In other words, they are presumably not interested in wearing it or keeping it to hand down to younger generations.

For that reason, to accept the jewelry without stating your intention would be sharp practice. I’m not saying it’s wrong — I’ll leave it up to the jewelry gods to rule on that. But doing so does go against the spirit of the gift and your mother’s thoughtfulness. If you don’t want the items, say so, and allow your mother to make an informed decision about who gets what.

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Picture it: In five or 10 years’ time, your mother asks you, “Could I borrow Grandma’s sapphire ring?” And you reply, “Actually, I sold it.”

Imagine how she would feel. Therein lies your answer. 

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

My married sister is helping herself to our parents’ most treasured possessions. How do I stop her from plundering their home?

My mom had my grandfather sign a trust leaving millions of dollars to two grandkids, shunning everyone else

My brother’s soon-to-be ex-wife is embezzling money from their business. How do we find hidden accounts?

‘Grandma recently passed away, leaving behind a 7-figure estate. Needless to say, things are getting messy’

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