When dividing a parent’s estate, if not given a complete plan on how to do so, dividing the financial assets may be the easy part. It’s the items that are worth nothing that can often bring up the most problems.
For example, maybe your parents left you and your brother $500,000 in a savings account. They also had a life insurance policy, but you were both listed as beneficiaries, so that gets divided automatically. You don’t need to do anything. You can just split the $500,000 in half and you both know it’s fair.
But what about a book full of family photos? What about a painting that your mother made and hung in the hallway? What about a stainless steel ring that your father always wore? What about the cups and dishes that your parents owned, that you remember from your childhood?
These items, on the open market, are nearly worthless. No one wants your family photos. Maybe you could sell the old dishes for $50 online. But are they really worth $25 to each of you? Of course not. You don’t care about the value. You care about that sentimental connection.
That’s when issues can arise that cause family strife. You and your sibling may both desperately want the same items. As shown, selling and splitting the money is pointless, and you also cannot divide the items. Someone will own the ring Dad used to wear, and the other person will not. How do you make these decisions? They can often lead to long disputes where no one feels happy with the process.
If you’re involved in a complex situation with your family members, you must take the time to consider your options. It’s often wise to speak with an experienced estate administration and probate law attorney about ways to handle these kinds of issues as fairly — and as friendly — as possible.