golden egg

“Fighting over personal property is the match to the tinderbox of emotions,” says McManus. “Sometimes feuds start because of lingering resentments over who worked the hardest to take care of Mom or Dad when they were sick or even over who got the biggest scoop of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving every year.”

Inheritance is a touchy subject, and families often find themselves in quarrels over what gets left 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:

  1. Make an inventory.
  2. Share the inventory with family members.
  3. Appraise your property.
  4. Set up a jury system.
  5. 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.

Reference: DailyFinance (August 7, 2013) Stop Family Feuds Over Inheritances Before They Start

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.