While fights over cash and stocks after a relative dies are common, families feud just as often over memorabilia and personal items that have little monetary value. And in some cases, it's the happiest families that are in the most danger of falling out over inheritances, because they're more likely to attach sentimental value to parents' personal possessions. Some of the worst family fights start over a trinket.
Will your family fight over the "stuff" you leave behind? Surprisingly, the stuff they fight over is the stuff you would least expect.
This is a problem as old as "family" itself. Regardless what you will leave behind, it is important to ensure that your plans are carefully designed to anticipate potential problems and communicate your wishes through proper estate planning.
This was the subject of a recent article in DailyFinance titled "Stop Family Feuds Over Inheritances Before They Start." The article notes that it is not just the stocks, real estate, jewelry, or priceless artwork you need to consider. In fact, it seems items with "sentimental" value can be all the more important. As one attorney quoted in the article observed: "More than 50 percent of the lawsuits we see are about items that have a total asset value of less than 10 percent of someone's estate ... The toughest part about family fights over a piece of jewelry or a painting is that it isn't about the value of the item, it's about what it means to loved ones."
The original article offers some practical advice and examples to get you thinking. Until you click over to the original article, here are five specific tips:
- Make an inventory.
- Share the inventory with family members.
- Appraise your property.
- Set up a jury system.
- Write a personal property memo.
So how do you stop or pre-empt a family fight over inheritances? Truly the answer depends on your own family, their wants, their desires, and, most importantly, the things they hold dear and why.