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What happens to sentimental items in someone’s estate?

An estate plan typically addresses the most major, valuable assets that a person has. It instructs the heirs on what to do with the house, for instance, or a vacation home. They learn how to split up investments, cash and other financial assets. 

But what about all of the little items in the home that may not get listed out individually in a will? How do you decide what to do with these? And, if they have sentimental value, is that going to make the distribution process harder? 

Disputes may ensue over estate items with emotional value

It is true that sentimental items often cause estate disputes. The problem arises when the person creating the estate plan did not realize that the heirs cared deeply about these items, which do not have any monetary value. That sentimental value means that everyone wants them, though, and there are no good solutions. You can’t, for example, simply split up grandma’s handmade quilt or grandpa’s old pipe — both of which may hold significant emotional value to their heirs.

Remember, when heirs cannot agree on what to do with major assets — like a house — the typical solution is to sell that house and split up the money. But sentimental items like books, paintings or old toys may have no value even if they were sold, so there’s no point. Plus, the heirs do not want the money, but the item itself. Selling the item and splitting the money may be the only option, but it does not make anyone happy with the outcome. 

What should you do when an estate dispute erupts?

If there is a dispute over items in an estate, you need to look into the legal options you have. These are difficult situations, but heirs can typically find a solution that works if they are willing to try. An attorney can help you understand more.