15 Assets You Should Never Leave Your Children (And Why)

SAVING & SPENDING - TAXES
Don't let these assets become burdens for your children after you're gone.
Updated April 9, 2024
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retired senior man packing stuff in box indoors

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We all dream of leaving something behind for our children, a legacy that secures their future and helps them build wealth.

But what if, instead of a blessing, that inheritance becomes a burden?

From outdated collections to questionable investments, here are 15 things you might want to think twice about leaving your kids.

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Timeshares

whyframeshot/Adobe asian family prepares for travel

You may love your Los Cabos timeshare, but inheriting it could be a nightmare. 

Timeshares have maintenance fees, contractual obligations, and politicking to get “good” dates — assuming your kids have enough PTO and financial means to travel there.

Collectibles

W.Scott McGill/Adobe authentic signed Babe Ruth baseball

You love your baseball cards and state souvenir spoons. And you know they’re quite valuable. You’ve seen the eBay listings, and your cousin Tom’s friend’s neighbor is an antique dealer and has seen one just like it go for thousands of dollars.

This could be true, but it’s not that likely. And even if your collection is worth a bundle, there’s a niche market for collectibles. This requires in-depth knowledge (and interest!) to get top dollar — not to mention the time-consuming work of selling the items individually.

You’re better off selling the collectibles as one lot to a dealer or asking the executor of your estate to do so. You’ll get less money, but avoid passing on the frustration.

Storage unit

David Gales/Adobe storage unit with the door open

Clear out your storage unit now — or hire someone from TaskRabbit to do it. Your kids don’t want to. If there’s anything of sentimental value in there — like old photographs — go with your kids now to retrieve them.

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China dinnerware

veou/Adobe mugs cups and plates in wooden cabinet

Unless the kids have expressed an interest in the china, don’t stick your kids with it. Most people don’t use china when they entertain, and most sets have little value on the secondhand market. 

Unfortunately, you can find spendy Mikasa sets — now dustables — with $5.99 price tags passed over in thrift stores. Gift, sell, or donate your set now.

Piano

Nattakorn/Adobe classic piano key

Old family pianos are money pits, especially if they've sat idle for decades. Leaving an old piano can cost your kids money, either for removal fees or major restoration, which often costs more than just getting a new piano.

Vacation property

O.B./Adobe Home in the mountains

Like timeshares, vacation property is impractical and fraught with major expenses. Your kids may argue over who gets it when and who pays for upgrades, repairs, maintenance, and taxes. 

Ask your kids now if one of them wants to buy out the others or make a plan to just sell it and split the proceeds.

Family business

nenetus/Adobe seller advises young woman

The business you’ve built up is your legacy, and it’s natural to want to pass it on. But that’s only a good idea if your children are interested in inheriting it, have the competence and training to do so, and you can decide who will be the next one in charge.

Successful businesses worth millions can go under in a matter of months. And unsuccessful businesses mired in debt are a burden you don’t want to leave behind.

Books

Sandra/Adobe vintage books stacked on table

If you’ve got a classic that’s been in the family for generations, by all means, pass it along. Determine who it’s going to and why, and make it clearly known. 

But for other books — like paperback novels — don’t stick anyone with the mess of having to dispose of them for a dime a piece at a garage sale or boxing up heavy loads for donation.

Clothing

vejaa/Adobe woman holding knitted clothes

Similar to books, unless it’s an heirloom your children have expressed interest in (i.e., Grandpa’s World War II uniform or a genuine vintage Chanel tweed suit), don’t leave your old clothes for the kids to clean up. 

Downsize now and donate what you’re not wearing. No one wants them.

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Herbalife

Charise/Adobe kitchen drawer filled with colorful plastic storage containers and cups

Your kids don’t want your Herbalife or boxes of Mary Kay, Avon, melaleuca, LuLaroe leggings (which have hideous patterns and are not soft as butter), or a lifetime supply of Norwex.

If you’re selling these products now for an MLM scheme and it’s your jam, that’s great. But your kids don’t want to get looped in and won’t consider boxes of unused merchandise an inheritance.

Guns

gwolters/Adobe Person putting firearm in gun safe

Leaving firearms can be problematic. Laws vary significantly by local jurisdiction, and transferring ownership can be complex. 

There are also safety concerns, like what if your child with small kids inherits guns but doesn’t have a gun vault? Or they may have mental health issues you’re unaware of.

Plus, your kids may lack the interest and expertise needed to own guns safely, or it could go against their values. 

They may also be unable to meet the related financial burden of ownership: safe storage, insurance, maintenance, and associated membership fees for shooting ranges.

Traditional IRAs

syahrir/Adobe traditional ira and roth ira

Roth IRAs are great, but traditional IRAs have major tax implications and can be quite complicated for an heir to deal with. Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth can be a smart move — especially for estate planning purposes.

Outdated technology

Philipimage/Adobe technician-woman-digitizing-VHS-cassette

Unless it’s museum-grade quality — that an actual museum would put on exhibit — outdated technology is usually a bulky, heavy, dust-magnet of a nuisance.

This includes VCRs, 8-track cartridges, and aerobics vinyl albums. Some antique technology, like phonographs, record players, or jukeboxes, might be interesting — but only if they work and your kids are interested in them and able to maintain them.

Overleveraged investments

Angelov/Adobe Looking at investments

Assets that are heavily financed or leveraged may not retain their value and could be a major financial liability. Think mortgages, leveraged ETFs or investment portfolios, or margin accounts with outstanding loans.

Vehicles with high upkeep

Brian/Adobe pontiac gto hardtop coupe

Your kids might be drooling over your classic Corvette, but inheriting a luxury vehicle may be like inheriting a sack of bills. These cars require significant maintenance and insurance costs, not to mention special storage considerations.

Bottom line

Nicholas Felix/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior woman looking at a photograph

Inheriting assets can mix financial gain with unforeseen burdens in terms of associated debt, upkeep, and in-family bickering. 

A meaningful financial inheritance should help your children get ahead financially, not empty their pockets or add hours of work and stress.

Talk to your kids now about any hard-to-inherit assets or any other legacy you intend to leave. Get their feedback and incorporate it into your planning.

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Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.

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