The harsh reality is that your adult children probably don’t want the vast majority of your keepsakes. Maybe they’re minimalists, or maybe they have a house full of their own stuff – or maybe their tastes just drastically differ from yours.
However, Mom’s diamond rings and earrings and Dad’s cufflinks and watches may be the exceptions. Even if they’re not tremendously valuable, these are the kinds of small items that can start serious family feuds.
How do you divide up such a finite set of items fairly?
There are all kinds of ways to divide jewelry in an estate. When you’re deciding how to do it, you should probably start with two steps:
- Get any big-ticket items appraised. Maybe you have a set of Le Vian earrings and your spouse has a Rolex watch. Since those can be high-ticket items, you should have an idea of their value before you decide who will receive them. This will help you adjust the rest of the inheritances accordingly to make things fair.
- Ask your heirs what they’d like to receive. If you get really lucky, none of your kids will want the same items. If that’s the case, you can simply divide things according to their wishes.
What if two or more of the kids want the same items?
When there’s a conflict, it’s better for you to decide how these items are divided – because leaving it up to your heirs could lead to bitter divides. You can:
- Have them draw lots for the contested items.
- Have them each pick one item at a time, by turns, until everything wanted is claimed.
- Consider breaking up one old piece into several new ones (like using the diamonds from Mom’s anniversary band to have three diamond pendants made — one for each child)
Ideally, you should talk to your children about these issues before the inevitable time comes. That can minimize a lot of potential problems later, and make you more secure in your estate plan.