When people in Pennsylvania think about planning their estate, they may simply divide their possessions into fractions, leaving equal portions for each of their children or other loved ones. When it comes to dividing the proceeds from a real estate sale, the contents of a bank account or the payout from an insurance policy, this choice for asset division may be clear enough. However, the process may become more difficult when specific, tangible items are involved. While each person is supposed to receive the same value, family heirlooms can conflate sentimental and emotional value, and some items may be the subject of debates between heirs.
The executor of the estate may need to figure out a way to distribute these items among the family members named in the will. This part of the estate administration process may involve the balancing of family concerns more than legal paperwork, but it can still be time-consuming and challenging. In some cases, family members come into the home to “tag” items they are interested in while others go in rounds through the person’s property to distribute early choices among the heirs. In all cases, the executor often needs to keep an eye on financial value to ensure that one family member does not receive an unfair windfall.
Other families have developed more detailed systems for distributing property, including mock auctions and bidding systems that enable each family member to express not only their interest in a particular item but also the intensity of their commitment. These systems can lead heirs to make agreements among themselves.
Many people want to write their wills in order to reduce this confusion for their executor and loved ones after they pass away. An estate planning attorney may help people to draw up estate documents that minimize the potential for family conflict.