Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Personal Property – Dividing it up – Can this Really be a Problem?

While not an area of the most litigation, the division of personal in an estate is the one that leads to the most hurt feelings and family fights.

You may think that your children or nieces and nephews are reasonable, loving people who will be able to sort out the spoons and the jewelry – there are more splintered families out there that started with just such a disagreement.

Worried about the division of the big items – those that have value to you – may not be the end of the story.  It may well be small sentimental items that you didn’t know meant anything to anyone that are disputed.

There are sisters who are not speaking because of a harmonica that they remember dad playing when they were children or a small, chipped, glass nicknack that sat on grandma’s dressing table that they all want.

How can you resolve this in advance?

First – talk to your family!  Ask what each of them would really like that you own.  It may prove enlightening.  The items that you thought would be wanted by everyone are wanted by no one.  Although a family treasure has great sentimental value to you doesn’t mean that it will have the same importance to others.

Then, make a Personal Property distribution list and place it with your Last Will and Testament – remember to sign and date it.  Set out in detail which items are to be distributed to each of your loved ones.

If you have a number of similar items – grandma’s teapot or gold rings – take a photograph and put it with the listing so that it is clear which teapot or ring goes to which family member.

Specify how the rest is to be distributed.  Perhaps the children should draw straws or permit them to chose in birth order.  Then each child selects one item, going round and round until all desired objects are gone.

However you chose – make sure that you address this very emotional area of your estate plan.