When a parent dies, he or she typically leaves behind a lot of personal property that may not be explicitly covered in the their estate plan. Photo albums, prized family heirlooms, collectibles and any other possession that have significance to someone can sometimes be the source of conflict between surviving family members. You can try to avoid these problems by taking some practical steps now and after a parent dies.
Step 1: Plan ahead. If you know there are particularly strong feelings about any of a parent’s property, talk about inheritance issues while the parent still has the capacity. The parent can create a codicil to his or her will that details who receives the personal items. You might be surprised at what kind of objects children value most. Some of the most mundane items that may have little market value can often be the source of deeply-felt conflicts. Take a while to consider what you want to remember your parents by, and make sure your other siblings are included in the discussion.
Step 2: Act soon. It may sound macabre, but acting quickly to distribute personal property after a parent dies can often be the best solution to avoiding conflicts. Talk to your estate planning attorney so you can legally transfer estate property properly and be sure not to let the issue linger. The longer that property is sitting in your parent’s home, the greater the chance a conflict can arise.
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