Plan for Dividing up Assets of Parent’s estate

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 in challenging a last will and testament, News

Issue: How to prevent estate litigation between heirs

Parents/Testators- be specific in your gifts. Have a plan for dividing up personal property. Beware of just saying “all my personal property to be divided in equal shares between my four children”. If you do that, you may cause the kids to fight over the same items.

Tracy Bennett, a clinical psychologist, experienced this. She learned from the experience and designed methods to help families divide estates. A link to a NY Times article is below.

She makes this point: “I ask parents to think just for a second what it would be like on Christmas morning if your children ran downstairs and there were all of these presents, bright and shining, big and small, but with no name tags on them,” he said. “Can you imagine the free-for-all that would ensue?” Well, that’s kind of what happens when the parents ask the children to share and share alike in the personal property division.

The article expounds by quoting another consultant: “Parents never know what’s important to the kids,” he said. “Is it dad’s World War II medal? We combined emotional value and monetary value here.”

One solution, per Tracy Bennett is “that people always bring in an appraiser. In one instance, with a family clock that several children wanted, Ms. Hall said she suggested that their mother get the clock valued — it was worth $7,500 — and give it to her oldest child, per family tradition, but then give $7,500 checks to her other children to equalize things.”

Bottom line, there is also one simple and perhaps the best strategy, which is ask the beneficiaries what they want beforehand.

Kirk Sanders is an estate litigation and fiduciary litigation attorney in North Carolina.


[tags: estate litigation attorney in North Carolina, fiduciary litigation attorney in North Carolina]