The strains and stresses on surviving children from the death of parents can happen in a time of grief. And even if someone commits themselves to reducing their want for material possessions, they may still desperately want Grandma’s teapot or Mom’s engagement ring. On the other hand, you could have a family member who wants more money and less stuff. 

A casual inquiry among friends brings forth horror stories of damage done to families when dividing possessions of someone who has passed away.  

Going through your parents’ possessions after they’ve passed away is a task faced with heavy hearts and frayed nerves.  But there are some survival guidelines we suggest you take that can help with the process.

Survival guidelines on how to divide the assets:

  • Remember that nothing — no thing — is as important as maintaining good relationships.
  • Go through the process determined to keep your relationships intact.
  • Work hard, talk a lot. Talk to your friends about their experiences. 
  • Take your time dividing the possessions, a rushed decision adds stress.
  • Realize that each item is loaded with emotion, and try to remain compassionate.
  • Try filling just one box with very personal things — your parents’ writings, photo albums and mementos — and go through this together at a later time after more healing.
  • Remember to allow for grief. 
  • Before thinking of how to divide things, think about grief, which hits each person differently.
  • Even a small item can seem indispensable. Be clear about your priorities and verbalize why those items are so important to you with your loved ones.

What about things everyone wants?

Almost every family has possessions that everyone wants. How can you divide these assets without dividing the family? Simple. These assets can be shared. A favorite pair of silver candlesticks or your parents china? How about deciding that they can spend a year in each child’s home? Passing the candlesticks and china around can become a ritual with each family.

What about things no one wants?

There are always assets or possessions that simply no one wants. Grandpa’s old shoes or Mom’s box of Christmas cards? One person’s throwaway is another person’s treasure. Put the unwanted items in a donation pile and take turns choosing the donation site of choice.

How do you deal with a great deal of stuff with a minimum of discussion?

Give each sibling an individual task to be done while another is moving on and still others need a break. This works great for families who are unable to schedule much time to work together. And so when a job is completed, that person can check it off. This will help you appreciate what you have accomplished. As a result, there can be less talk and more peaceful division.

Your estate planning attorney can help.

Therefore, call our office today to devise a plan now on how you can divide your assets, not your family.

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