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  1. #1
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    Default How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    Hoping for advice on this. My grandparents are getting on in years, and my mother and her sister and brother have a tendency to fight and to see the worst intentions in one another.

    So far, my grandparents have not made any plans for their belongings in terms of who gets what. I know that if nothing is determined ahead of their passing, a huge family feud will erupt. (My mom claims she wants nothing and will let her siblings take everything, but I know that when it happens, she'll feel differently -- and even so, she'd get sucked into their disputes.)

    Has anyone experienced or heard about a fair and reasonable way to deal with this before the fact, in order to keep family peace during a stressful, mournful time? Or a sane way to divide things up after a death?

    This really is not about getting the most items, it's about keeping the peace. There's only one thing I want (an old photo album, worth no money but special to me) and I've already been told I will get it.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    kellyotn is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    My DH's family did an "auction" with play money. Basically, an estate auction was planned. They used a company that has the auctioneer, etc. A few days before the real auction, they had their personal auction. Each sibling was allotted X amount of play money. So, they had to bid against each other for the things they wanted, and once their amount was gone, they were done unless they wanted to throw real money into the pot (to be divided with the real auction proceeds.)

    My DH's mom really only wanted an antique BB gun to give to my DH and a few other sentimental items. She didn't have room for any of the large furniture and such. She spent a good deal of her play money on the BB gun because a brother wanted it also, but he also wanted furniture so he had to bow out to have enough for the furniture.

    It worked well for her, because she's VERY timid and I'm sure would have not gotten **anything** otherwise (b/c she didn't have room for large things, and would have let her brother bulldoze her on the gun).

    I don't know any specifics beyond this, but I've heard other people do it so I'd think an auction company would have experience in how decide values and such.

  3. #3
    Moneypenny is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    When DH's parents passed and he and his 4 siblings were going through the estate, they made a list of all the items, big and small. Then each sibling went through and ranked the items they wanted with #1 meaning "I really really really want this" and #2 meaning "I would like it but could live without if someone else wants it". If they didn't want it at all they didn't mark the item. Surprisingly, there were very few items where more than 1 person marked it as a #1, and for those items they could say, "Well, I see we both want items X and Y, so you take X and I'll take Y." It was surprisingly civil.
    Susan
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  4. #4
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    Depending on what the estate includes, after your grandparents pass, their children could agree to take turns selecting what they want. Each person gets to pick one item at a time until everything is divided up or noone wants anything else. They can draw lots to see who selects first.

    We often do this in our family whenever we have to share something - such as chores, colored towels, even dessert.

  5. #5
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    An old friend of mine was one of 7 kids. When his parents died, the oldest brother went thru and made a master list of everything in the house. It said things like "mantle" "top bookshelf to left of fireplace" "second from top shelf", "grandfather clock", and so on.

    Then the 7 kids gathered at the house (no spouses, no kids) and they drew numbers to see who went first. Then they took turns picking who got what. If you wanted the clock on the mantle you got EVERYTHING on the mantle.

    Anything you got in your 'lot' that you didn't want, they put in the garage and it was free for the taking. There was NO fighting and some trading after about 8 rounds of picking but it went extremely well and everyone got several of the key things they reallllly wanted.
    ~~AngelaS~~
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  6. #6
    KBecks is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    You could also do a real auction with real money. That's a good way to get rid of the rest of the items also.

    But it is very difficult, even among siblings that get along well.

    Good luck.

    Karen, mom to three beautiful boys, 10/2004, 7/2006 and 10/2008!
    trying to spend less time online, doh!


    *I regret choosing circumcision for my sons.*
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  7. #7
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    My parents will have eveything split three ways, for each daughter. Thankfully, they have three apartments too, so we each get one. As the eldest, I may decide to appropriate more to one of my sisters who may be having a harder time than the others, just to be equitable.

    My inlaws have very specific wills. But I do not care too much for most of their stuff, so there will be no fight. The one thing I want my FIL says he has "assigned" for me :)

  8. #8
    barbarhow Guest

    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    My siblings and I have talked about this kind of an auction. We also talked about having everything appraised beforehand and rather than doing an auction take turns having each person "purchase" with their allotted amount whatever they want. Each of our styles differ immensely from my parents so it is likely that much would be auctioned off in a real auction at a later date.
    Barbara-mom to Jack 3/27/03, a Red Sox fan
    and Anna 5/12/05, my little Yankee fan!

  9. #9
    egfmba is offline Silver level (200+ posts)
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?

    Don't rely on getting something just because someone tells you it's yours. If someone else speaks up and says the parent gave it to them, there's still a fight looming.

    I like the lottery system, both with real and play money. However, you can also achieve the goal of getting a specific, sentimental item given to you by asking the parent to put your name on it (somewhere on the back or bottom), or by publicly giving it to you (placing it in your hands) in front of other people. Even if you say "Okay, but can I keep it here for now? I can't imagine it somewhere you're not," you've been given the item in front of someone else. The parent's intent to 'give' you that item will be made clear and will hopefully be less disputable than if the parent tells you alone.

    If the parents in question absolutely refuse to put their wishes in a will explicitly distributing belongings, make it clear to the parents that if they don't write a will, in some states, they run the risk of higher estate costs because there is no clear will and the court may have to divide up the estate. When there's a clear will or system in place, the will just needs to be probated, which, depending on the property involved, may not even be necessary.

    I've told my own grandmother this, but she's sure that her 7 living children will 'evenly' split her belongings, no matter whose name is on the bequest. Yeah, right. I know at least 4 of her kids who will take what they can and run. It happens, for whatever reason.

    Good luck!
    eva

  10. #10
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    jec2 is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Default RE: How do you divide deceased's belongings without fighting?



    my parents also refuse to divide any of their belongings up between my brother's and I. The only thing I can suggest is to draw straws and then each take a turn picking something, eg. Joe picks the piano, Mary the bedroom set, Jane the china, etc.
    Juliet, mama to DS 10/03 & DS 11/06

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