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Dealing with family heirlooms in your estate plan

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Estate Planning

Items such as a North Dakota home, car or bank account held in your estate will need to be allocated to beneficiaries at the time of your death. You can also choose to have assets held in a trust distributed at the time of your death or at any point in the future. However, this may be difficult if you have an art collection or other valuable assets that can’t always be divided in an equal fashion.

Let the beneficiaries decide

One method of dividing tangible assets is to let your beneficiaries pick items that they want to keep. If an item isn’t claimed, it can be sold with proceeds from the sale split among your heirs. Items may also be sold if multiple heirs want them and no one is willing to withdraw their claim.

Gift items during your lifetime

Another estate planning option is to gift items during your lifetime so that nothing is left to chance. For instance, you may decide that your oldest child should get your prized painting while your youngest gets the bars of gold stashed in the family vault. If there is a significant difference in the value between these goods, you can choose to make an additional cash gift to make up for it.

Let a neutral party allocate assets

You may give a third party the authority to allocate assets on your behalf. For instance, you could ask a family friend to decide who receives items that multiple parties have claimed. Alternatively, you could ask a professional to organize an estate sale or auction to liquidate assets and split the cash evenly. You could also give this outside party authority to donate items to charity instead of giving them to your heirs.

Ideally, your estate plan will have a method of resolving as many issues as you can think of. You can also add language to a will or trust outlining protocols for any unanticipated problems that might arise.