Who Gets Which Inherited Items? & How To Avoid WWIII…

If you haven’t yet been through an estate process involving the posthumous distribution of valuable assets – or even emotionally sentimental ones – without specific instructions in the Will from the deceased… then buckle up for when you do!  Perhaps more movies should explore the humor and the drama which sometimes results from this chaotic scenario.  In any case, the Wall Street Journal published a good article HERE referring to different approaches when it comes to inheritance issues.  You may need to join to read The WSJ to read the article unless you’re already a member, but the highlights we enjoyed are worth pointing out!

  1. If your Will designates a personal representative to make the distributions (and it should!), choose wisely and be specific how much power that person has.  It will be nearly impossible to make everybody happy, even if the Will stipulates who receives what, because there are many items which will not be designated specifically. Even if the Will says to liquidate everything, put the cash in a Trust, and equally distribute the funds to the heirs, then the question could arise around whether an heir can purchase a desired item by pledging an amount of the pending cash from the distribution or not.  There can be many other complicated issues!
  2. If you set a Distribution method, you may want to consider several options.. from rolling dice to drawing straws or cards, and with multiple heirs it is wise to take turns reversing or scrambling the order of who goes first for each gamble.
  3. If you haven’t already written your own Personal Property Memo, take note: “In most states, you can draft a memo listing what you want to give and to whom. If the memo is incorporated in a will or trust, it is legally binding. If not, the personal representative can take your wishes into consideration. Sign and date it.”