The Norman Transcript

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February 5, 2013

How to divvy up your stuff

NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior,

What’s the best, conflict-free way to divvy up my personal possessions to my kids after I’m gone? I have a lot of jewelry, art, family heirlooms and antique furniture and five grown kids that don’t always see eye-to-eye on things. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

— Seeking Peace

Dear Seeking,

Divvying up personal possessions among adult children or other loved ones is a task that many parents dread. Deciding who should get what without showing favoritism, hurting someone’s feeling or causing a feud can be difficult, even for close-knit families who enter the process with the best of intentions. Here are some tips to consider that can help you divide your stuff with minimal conflict.

Problem areas

For starters, you need to be aware that it’s usually the small, simple items of little monetary value that cause the most conflicts. This is because the value we attach to the small personal possessions is usually sentimental or emotional, and because the simple items are the things that most families fail to talk about.

Family battles also can escalate over whether things are being divided fairly by monetary value. So for items of higher value like your jewelry, antiques and art, consider getting an appraisal to assure fair distribution. To locate an appraiser, visit appraisers.org.

Ways to divvy

The best solution for passing along your personal possessions is for you to go through your house with your kids (or other heirs) either separately or all at once. Open up cabinets, drawers and closets, and go through boxes in the attic to find out which items they would like to inherit and why. They may have some emotional attachment to something you’re not aware of. If more than one child wants the same thing, you will have the ultimate say.

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