When we think of a family squabbling over an estate after someone dies, the picture that usually comes to mind is that of siblings fighting over real estate and other valuable assets. Believe it or not, there are often more disagreements over distributing the non-valuable property left by the deceased.
When grandma passes away, everyone wants those Christmas ornaments the family has fond memories of, or the cookie jar where you could always find grandma’s fresh-baked cookies. These small things can cause major fights between family members.
What makes dividing personal items even more of a problem is that most people don’t think to include specific personal items when they write their will. More commonly, they will ask that their personal items be divided equally between family members.
One of the best ways to avoid family fights over a deceased’s personal property is with good communication. If you want certain objects to go to a particular person or people, make sure that you include these in your will. You might also want to give your belongings to those people before you die, if you have the chance to do so. If you are written into someone else’s will and want specific non-valuables, talk to that person so that they know to include those items in their will.
Dividing equally is not adequate wording when it comes to personal items. You will want to find a way to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and that certain items go where you want them to go. The last thing you want is for your family to be squabbling after you are gone.
Have a family meeting and talk with everyone about your wishes for your personal belongings. If there will be a squabble, it can happen while you are still there to help everyone come to an agreement. This is one way that you can have it all settled long before there is ever a need for your family to fight about your property.
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