Advertisement
Home & Real Estate

Which Child Gets Mom's China?

Even if she did like you best, avoid hard feelings and play fair.

Cash Out EarlyStarting Your Own BusinessMore Advice for The 40+ Life

Assess value. Have an appraiser put a dollar amount on every item of monetary value, says Angie Epting Morris, who wrote The Settlement Game (Voyages Press, $15). Later, add up the value of the items assigned to each family member. The highest amount becomes the benchmark, says Morris. The other family members take money from the estate to match it. An appraiser's fee can run from $75 to $300 an hour, depending on experience and location. To find an accredited appraiser in your area, go to www.appraisers.org.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Agree on a plan. And make sure that all the siblings can live with it. One popular strategy, described in Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate (University of Minnesota Extension, $12.50), is to gather items of similar monetary or sentimental value and let each heir pick a piece from the group. Use a random method, such as drawing straws, to determine who goes first. Switch the order for each go-round.

Have your say. Before you start choosing, ask family members to write down the five items they most want and why they should have them. You may be surprised to find that everyone covets a different treasure, or that someone else's reason trumps yours. "I have a christening gown made by my grandmother," says Morris. "Because my son was the last to wear it, 100 years later, I wanted it for him. That made sense to my siblings, so I got it."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Count out spouses. Have in-laws stay out of it, says Morris. "Only immediate heirs should deal with the division of possessions." That proviso covers the grandkids. If they want a keepsake, a parent can choose for them.

Don't snitch the silver. You may know in your heart that Aunt Betty wanted you to have the silver gravy boat. But sneaking things out of the house before the distribution will create hard feelings. Don't do it.

Think outside the box. There's always at least one item that everyone wants, which means you'll have to come up with a creative compromise, says Bill Bushnell, an estate-planning attorney and mediator in Athens, Ga. His wife and her three siblings face that challenge with two valuable, matching portraits of their grandparents, one of whom was a Confederate general. One idea: Create copies of the portraits for each of the siblings and donate the original portraits to a museum.

Pledge to get along. Most families bring a mix of personalities to the splitting-up process. Respect your differences and commit to a peaceful outcome, says Morris. "Determine that when everything is said and done, you'll walk away friends."

Advertisement

Most Popular

HSAs Get Even Better
Financial Planning

HSAs Get Even Better

Workers have more options with flexible spending accounts, too.
July 2, 2020
2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays
Markets

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays

Is the market open today? Take a look at which holidays the stock markets and bond markets take off in 2020.
July 1, 2020
Find a Great Place to Retire
happy retirement

Find a Great Place to Retire

Our cities provide plenty of space to spread out without skimping on health care or other amenities.
July 2, 2020

Recommended

Exit Strategies for Charitable Remainder Trusts
estate planning

Exit Strategies for Charitable Remainder Trusts

CRTs offer tax and income-planning flexibility as life changes over the years.
July 1, 2020
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2020 tax year...and it's never too early to start thinking about next year's return.
June 22, 2020
Top 10 Estate Planning Tips in a Time of Coronavirus
estate planning

Top 10 Estate Planning Tips in a Time of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has many people finally taking action to fill out advance health care directives, wills and powers of attorney. Here are some ti…
June 16, 2020
Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will
retirement

Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will

Create a legacy letter to communicate values, experiences and life lessons to your family.
June 9, 2020