There are plenty of estate disputes that center around financial value. One heir gets less than another and contests the will on the grounds that the heir who got more money used undue influence to get it, for example. Money is a major source of conflict, especially when things are not equal.
It’s not the only source of conflict, though, and it’s often not even the most contentious situation. When things get really complex is when sentimental value comes into the picture.
The emotional connection
Sentimental value is simply the way that the value or importance of something can be inflated for a specific individual due to their personal and emotional connection to that item. It is often closely tied to memories. As you can imagine, emotions and memories are two major elements that are in play after someone has passed away.
For example, two siblings may both want the same set of books that their parents had on the mantle over the fireplace. These books do have a monetary value, but they could buy another set for a small fee on Amazon. Say the whole set is worth $100.
However, if one sibling gets that set and the other doesn’t, they may enter into a debate about how their parents wanted assets to be distributed. The sibling who did not get the books may argue that their parents told them they could have them, for example, even if they forgot to put it in the will.
Why would someone spend money on a court dispute when the books are only worth $100? The problem is that they’re worth far more than $100 to those specific people. Those books are tied to their memories of growing up, reading with their parents, visiting for the holidays in adulthood, etc. No one else would care about the set, but those siblings may struggle to find a solution since the books mean so much to each of them.
A contentious case
If you get involved in a contentious probate litigation case, you need to know what options you have. Things are not always as simple as just splitting up money.