Beneficiaries may fight over items with sentimental value

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Contested Wills & Trusts

While making your estate plan, one of your main goals may be to avoid estate disputes. Perhaps you’ve seen these play out with other families. You know that a dispute between beneficiaries can be very serious. Some people even have a falling out that is so significant that they never speak again.

Often, these disputes revolve around substantial assets. Maybe two beneficiaries each think that they should get their parents’ home, for example. They can’t decide who should own it, and it leads to a dispute.

But in situations like this, if the financial value is the issue, there are usually solutions. The parents’ home could be sold and the money could be divided between those two beneficiaries, for example. They may not be happy about splitting the money with the other person, but it’s theoretically possible and could lead to a fair form of division.

Why sentimental items are different

But items with sentimental value are more difficult because that same financial value may not be there. These family heirlooms may not have any value to someone else, so there’s no way to sell them.

On top of that, even if the beneficiaries did sell the items, they wouldn’t receive what they actually wanted. Because they’re interested in the sentimental value, they want to own that specific item. They’re not worried about the money, so they would be unhappy to sell these cherished family items just to get a few dollars.

Proper estate planning can avoid these types of disputes as you divide family heirlooms. Just be sure you know exactly what steps to take when drafting an effective plan.