Rules of etiquette are followed in many areas of our lives to avoid disputes and to provide a guide on how to do things in a generally accepted manner, or that follows custom. Proper etiquette also infers exhibiting respect or deference where appropriate in certain situations. When it comes to inheritance, there are rules of etiquette to follow especially where the intent of the decedent is not clear regarding disposition of certain assets or property. If you are unclear about disposition or the probate process, consult an inheritance attorney in Pasadena.
Starting the Conversation
At some point, you should talk with your parent or relative regarding their wishes on disposition of their property. If they pass without a Will, then the laws of intestate succession will apply regarding disposition and their intent will be irrelevant. Begin by making a list of the property and ask your relative to whom they wish to leave these items, such as furniture, jewelry, car, bank account funds, collections or other items.
When your list is complete, consider talking to the heirs about what is to be left them and if they want to have those items. If your relative cannot decide, then schedule a family meeting on disposition to avoid disputes and recriminations. Some experts suggest drawing straws if the heirs cannot agree.
Not all heirs or beneficiaries are thrilled to receive what is devised to them while others are resentful of what others did receive. By letting everyone know what they inherited, you can begin the process of determining if they really want the item, wish to give it to another family member or if a swap is in order. If your relative is still living, then let them know that an heir is not interested in the property. Usually, your relative will be grateful to know so he or she can leave it to someone who will appreciate the gift.
Asking for an Item
Is it proper etiquette to ask for a certain item? It depends on whether your relative has already decided, but you might ask that you would like to have it if she/he has not already decided. If it is particularly valuable, either as an heirloom or based on its intrinsic value, then you invite animus if you do not discuss your desire for it with other family members.
Balancing Monetary and Sentimental Values
Fairness in the disposition should be the goal. Each family member might want a particular item and there are bound to be conflicts. If there is not enough of the assets to go around, then you might consider an appraisal of the antique furniture, gun collection, classic car, jewelry or paintings that more than one person wants or if there are complaints that someone else is getting more value. If no agreement can be reached, then you might have to sell the items and divide the proceeds equally.
If you live in the Pasadena area, consult an inheritance lawyer from Pasadena or one who handles trusts and estate matters. It is always a good idea to draft an estate plan and to encourage your relative to draw one up to avoid disputes and other problems when assets are passed after one’s death.