A few weeks ago, my colleague wrote about whether you need to include your personal belongs in your estate plan. When administering an estate, we often get the practical question, “how can we fairly distribute the personal items among the beneficiaries?”
There are several solutions to this problem.
Option 1: Give each beneficiary a different color sticker and request that that they place their sticker on the items they want. Keep in mind that if more than one person wants certain items, you’ll need to make a decision.
Option 2: Assign each beneficiary a number. If you have three beneficiaries, for example, the person with number 1 gets to go first and pick an item, then the person who chose number 2 does the same and the person who chose number 3 does the same until each beneficiary has gone one time. Then the person who chose number 3 gets to choose again, followed by the person who chose number 2, and so forth. This method is frequently cited as the most fair.
Option 3: Have an appraisal conducted and then put into piles based off of each item’s value. Then have each beneficiary choose an item from the most expensive pile, then the next expensive pile and repeating the pattern until everything is gone. This ensure that the total value of items received is similar.
Option 4: Have each child take the few items that they want to keep for sentimental reasons. The remaining items are then sold at auction and the money is split equally between the beneficiaries.
If in the worst case scenario, the beneficiaries cannot get along with each other, they can hire a professional mediator to assist them.