When considering estate disputes, people sometimes think only about “big ticket” items. They think about how it may be controversial to divide up a life insurance policy, to sell the family home or to split up the remaining retirement funds.
These things certainly can cause disputes, but it is important to remember that sentimental items also cause disputes. In some cases, these disputes can be more likely than they would be over more expensive items – and harder to solve.
Why are they difficult to resolve?
The problem with disputes over sentimental items is that one of the main tactics for dispute resolution has been lost. You cannot sell the items.
First and foremost, selling the items and dividing the earnings would not actually give the heirs what they wanted. If their connection is sentimental and emotional, they don’t just want the financial value of a piece of artwork, a book collection or something else of this nature. They actually want to own that specific item.
The other problem is that items that are at the center of sentimental disputes may not even have that much financial value to begin with. The heirs are disputing who should get that item because of the memories they have from growing up, their memories of their parents and the emotional connection that they have. The item itself may be worth virtually nothing at all.
Because these disputes can get to be so complicated and heated, it’s very important for all involved to know exactly what options they have. There are solutions, even when they are sometimes difficult to find.