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Personal Property - don't forget to tell them to share.

Tree showing assets for estate planning

 Personal property can be an essential part of many people’s lives. Certain items hold a significant place in your heart, Whether it has monetary value or something you have collected for many years. Figuring out what to do with these items when you are no longer around to enjoy them can be quite the task. This is especially true if multiple loved ones want to receive your personal property. Without your instructions, this situation might turn into a disaster. People may start fighting or hiring lawyers to sue each other to determine what is rightfully theirs. You can help prevent this by providing your loved ones with instructions. The following are some ways to divide your personal property to help maintain harmony among your loved ones.

 Draw Numbers and Take Turns Choosing

One method for dividing personal property, especially if you have an extensive collection of similar items, is to have each beneficiary draw a number and take turns choosing items in sequential order, starting with the person who drew number 1. Once the last person chooses, the person who drew number 1 can start the next round. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 3: 1, 2, 3, 4)

To mix things up, once everyone has had an opportunity to make their first selection, the person who drew the most significant number can start the second round, continuing in reverse sequential order. The person who drew number 1 can create for the third round, and the selections continue sequentially. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 4, 3, 2, 1; Round 3: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Alternatively, after choosing sequentially in the first round, the person who drew number 2 can start the second round, and the selections continue in sequential order, ending with the person who drew number 1. Number 3 starts the third round, and the selections continue similarly. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 2, 3, 4, 1; Round 3: 3, 4, 1, 2)

 Number Items for a Drawing

This process can work if you have many items of similar value. Instead of having the beneficiaries figure out who gets what, they could leave the decision up to chance. With this method, all items to be distributed are numbered, and a set of corresponding numbers is placed in a hat or bowl. The participants then choose a number and get the item that matches their number.

Auction With Fake Money

If there is an item that more than one person wants, one way to solve this is through an auction. Each participant is allotted an equal amount of fake money during the auction. Then, each item is presented randomly, and the participants bid on the items they want. The highest bid wins. This helps ensure that the person who wants it the most gets it, but it also means that people may not receive the same monetary value.

Use Stickers to Stake Claim

Another way to divide personal property is to give each beneficiary the same number of colored stickers (with each person getting a different color) and have them place stickers on the items they want. If an item has only one sticker, the person who chose it gets it. If an item has multiple stickers, beneficiaries can discuss what to do with the item. This allows beneficiaries to identify items that need to be discussed while quickly dividing items not in contention.

Sell Everything and Divide the Proceeds

Sometimes, when more than one person wants something, there is no compromise or solution. In these situations, you could sell the item and divide the proceeds. While this may not be a desirable solution, sometimes there is no other way. Unfortunately, this method only works well with items of high monetary value. Purely sentimental items may not be worth much, in which case an alternate method may be needed.

Need Help? Bounce Your Ideas Off of Us

We understand that this can be an emotional and time-consuming experience. We are happy to help you think through the options, draft instructions that fit your unique situation, and convey what is most important to you. Call us to discuss different options and select the one that is right for you.

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