When there are plenty of assets to go around, you might think that estate battles would be unnecessary — but it’s the little things that often matter the most to someone’s heirs.
In particular, your parents’ jewelry can be the source of a lot of family squabbles. If you’re planning ahead for your estate, here are some options to consider.
Ask who wants which pieces
Your jewelry is extremely personal to you, so your adult children may strongly associate you with your diamond ring, your favorite watch or some other items. Don’t assume that your watch, if you’re male, should go to your son or your diamond earrings, if you’re a woman, should go to your daughter.
Ask your children if they have preferences for any of your jewelry items. If you’re lucky, there won’t be any conflicts. You can simply allocate the requested pieces to each person in your will. If some of your pieces are particularly valuable, it is wise to even things out by redistributing other assets accordingly. This also gives you reassurance that your favorites will each be treasured and worn — not left in a box.
Divide everything by a prescribed plan
If there are numerous pieces that everybody wants, decide on a fair way to divide them. For example, if you have three children and a dozen pieces of jewelry that need to be divided, you could let each child pick one piece at a time. To reduce any advantage or disadvantage, consider this method:
- Round one: The oldest sibling picks first, then the middle child, then the youngest.
- Round two: The middle child picks first, then the youngest, then the oldest.
- Round three: The youngest child picks first, then the oldest, then the middle child.
Anything nobody really wants can be sold and the value divided between them.
Repurpose a special piece
Maybe you have a stunning pair of diamond earrings that both your children want. You can leave instructions in your will that one diamond out of the set be made into a pinkie ring for your son and the other into a solitaire pendant for your daughter — or whatever they prefer.
With personal items, issues that arise are seldom about the money. Strategic estate planning can help you stop a family squabble before it starts.