It’s Time to Divide the Family Heirlooms
The executor of an estate is responsible for management if there’s a will, but a court-appointed administrator will oversee an estate if the deceased didn’t leave explicit instructions. This includes dividing jewelry among the surviving family members, and sometimes among siblings. There are a few ways in which executors and administrators can divide jewelry, and it’s important to get it right so that everyone is satisfied with the result.
Dividing family jewelry can be a contentious issue, especially if each sibling has their own idea of who should receive it. Administrators and executors can use these ideas to divide the jewelry fairly and avoid any arguments between family members. You’ll have a fair amount of flexibility to make your own decision if the parties involved can’t reach an agreement on their own.
Start with the Will
If the deceased has written a will, the executor is legally and morally bound to manage the estate based on their instructions. In this case, dividing family jewelry is easy, and your job is simply to execute their wishes. Let everyone involved know what the will says and make it clear that you are bound to respect it.
It’s important to get a signed release from the recipient confirming that they received the items in question. This release needs to be filed with the probate court responsible for the estate. You can only divide jewelry that isn’t left to a specific person in the will.
Dividing Value Equally
Some wills include instructions for general division rather than for specific items, such as dividing possessions equally among siblings. If you need to divide jewelry equally, have it appraised by a professional to get an estimate of its value. From there, you can use your best judgement to come up with a division that makes sense for everyone.
Try to divide the jewelry in a way that satisfies each sibling—tempers can flare surprisingly quickly in these situations. If you have two $500 earrings and two $500 necklaces for two people, for example, give one set to each side. Keep in mind that everyone should understand and accept your decision as fair, even if it’s not their ideal outcome.
You can also talk to the surviving family members to determine their preferences. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to divide jewelry equally—if one person gets more jewelry, you can make up the difference with other items of the same value.
If there isn’t a will, survivors may request individual pieces of jewelry they’re particularly attached to. It’s still important to divide the jewelry equally, so you need to get the jewelry appraised even if siblings want specific items. If one person receives more value in jewelry, you’ll have to balance things by giving the other person more of something else.
As the legally authorized executor or administrator, you can divide jewelry and other possessions however you see fit, as long as the total value is equal. Talk to everyone involved to understand what they want, then try to come up with an idea that works for each person’s needs. If you can’t get everyone to agree, you can also sell the jewelry and divide the money equally. If you had a diamond ring to sell, for example, you can do so online; just make sure it’s a trustworthy, accredited business.
Dividing jewelry between siblings is relatively simple if there’s a clear will, but it can get tricky quickly if you have to divide the jewelry yourself based on individual requests. It’s important to carefully navigate these situations and do everything you can to come up with a fair solution. These tips will help you find a fair way to distribute jewelry among siblings even if they have trouble agreeing on a solution.