Tips for families dividing tangible assets

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2020 | Family Law And Divorce

Indiana families may face a challenge when it comes to dividing a loved one’s tangible assets after that person’s death. Tangible assets are the physical objects that may not be as easily distributed or bought and sold as some property and money. Photo albums and other sentimental items might be considered tangible assets.

Some families divide them by taking turns choosing an item, but one family found another workable way that they felt was fair. First, the two executors, both children of the woman who had died, prepared a list of 724 items. They left off linens, jewelry and books but included items that had monetary and sentimental value, including a car, a piano, furniture, artworks, games and more. All the woman’s children got a copy of the list and indicated the items they wanted. Unwanted items were set aside to be sold, and any item only one person wanted went to that person.

A second list was made of items more than one person wanted. Each person was given virtual poker chips to put toward what they wanted. They were also able to discuss the items, so some claims were relinquished as people only wanted one of several items. Finally, the executors ensured that those who got the most valuable items paid the others. All liked this solution.

Not every family is able to work together this functionally, and people should take this into account when they are preparing an estate plan. They can also name sentimental items in the will and specify who they should go to. People may want to talk to an attorney about how to ensure that any items not specifically mentioned are also passed to the intended beneficiaries. Executors should be carefully chosen for organizational ability as well as diplomacy.