When Dividing Assets, the Little Things Matter

Paul Sullivan discusses the complicated process of dividing assets when drafting estate plans, specifically those smaller, often considered trivial assets, that aren’t thought about to the same extent as homes, securities and the like. Sullivan references Marlene Stum, a University of Minnesota professor and author of “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?,” who stresses the importance of fairness and conflict management throughout this process. Though we cannot always plan for death, divorce or other complex situations, Sullivan urges the need for a strategy in these times, and to consider emotions while remaining realistic.

The article begins as follows:

People often spend a lot of time crafting estate plans that lay out how their big assets — from cash to homes and securities — will be divided among their children, grandchildren and everyone else down the line. But they sometimes give far less thought to the other stuff — those personal effects that may have little monetary value but so much sentimental value. Yet it is the decisions about those items that often cause problems in a family.

Teams of highly paid lawyers and advisers can divide the most complex estate among heirs of varying ages from different marriages in a way that is equitable. But if they are asked to decide who gets the tarnished tea service in the dining room, they are apt to bow out and wish you good luck.

Read the article in full here: When Dividing Assets, the Little Things Matter

Posted by Allison Trupp, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal

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