Estate disputes happen for many different reasons, but one common thing that is cited is the role of sentimental items. These items are often referred to as family heirlooms, but they may not be items that have been passed on over the generations. It could just be something that all of the children have a sentimental connection to based on their experience growing up.
For example, perhaps a parent has a certain set of dishes that they always used on their children’s birthdays. Each adult child wants to inherit that set of dishes so that they can use them for their own children on their birthdays.
Why this creates a problem
Sentimental items are such a problem because they can’t be divided. You could give every child a few of the dishes, but then they will all feel like they didn’t get what they wanted. You could sell the dishes and split up the money, but the dishes may not actually be worth very much. Plus, your heirs aren’t interested in the value of those dishes. They just want the only exact set. So selling it and dividing the money doesn’t give any of them what they were after.
One of the best things that you can do is simply to talk to your heirs in advance. Ask them what sentimental items they may be interested in. You can even give out some of these as gifts before you pass away, potentially avoiding a dispute later.
Additionally, if you discuss this in a family meeting, then all of your heirs get to have a say in how the estate plan is created. Even if they don’t get exactly all of the items that they wanted, they may be much more likely to accept this resolution since they were a part of it.
Either way, this is likely going to be a bit complicated, so be sure you know about all of the legal steps you can take to make your plan and avoid disputes.