For much of estate planning, even though you’re dealing with very valuable assets, they don’t have much sentimental value. Your heirs will certainly be able to split up your bank account or life insurance policy, for example, but this is more of a logistical question than an emotional one. How exactly do you want to divide the money?
While you’re doing your estate planning, though, it is important to address these sentimental items. In fact, these are the items that often cause estate disputes. Having a plan in place in advance can help prevent this from happening to your heirs.
Why do disputes happen?
There are two main reasons why these disputes happen. The first is simply that your heirs are going to give too much weight to these items because of the sentimental value. For instance, someone may decide that this one single item is the most important thing they want to get in the will, even though it is worth almost nothing if they were to sell it. Because of this emotional connection to the item, it becomes much harder for heirs to compromise and work out solutions if those are not provided for them.
The second reason is that compromise doesn’t look the same with sentimental items. The value cannot be divided. If the item didn’t have sentimental value, your heirs could sell it and split up the money that they earned. But doing this would only mean that neither of them got the item they want, so that is not a satisfactory solution.
As you make your estate plan and try to avoid these future disputes, be sure you know what legal options you have.