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Wills 101

What To Do If Personal Property Is Left To Be Divided

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Dividing up personal items can lead to animosity or even to relationship breaking discussions. You can help prevent a problem by discussing with  your heirs a system to make it easier. Following are a few tips from Money Magazine  to consider:

  • Ask that a discussion about dividing personal items be postponed until after emotions have a chance to settle and everyone can be together in person.
  • Leave spouses and partners at home. The fewer people in on the discussion, the better.
  • Agree that "this won't tear us apart."  Also consider agreeing that if someone says something hurtful, that you will all agree to forgive each other.
  • Ask each person to identify what items are important to them. This helps identify which items are subject to discussion.
  • Decide on a process. For example, take turns picking items. One way to do this is to create a list of who goes first, second etc. Second round you can reverse the list, so the last person goes first in the next round.
  • If items have real value, get an appraisal. Whoever wants the item can pay the other heirs for their shares through a reduced inheritance or cash. If no one wants the item, it can be sold and the proceeds split.
  • If there is an item which two people want and neither party can agree, consider selling the item. This way both people feel the same sacrifice. 

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