May 1, 2021

How To Divide A Family Members Possessions

After you lose a loved one, the last thing you’re thinking about is what to do with their possessions. To many, a loved one’s possessions are the last remaining link between themselves and the deceased. Letting these items go can be extremely emotional and stressful, but it is an important part of the healing process.

The age of the family member who dies will determine how the possessions are divided. If a young child dies, the possessions will go to the parents, and they can decide what to do with them. If a parent dies but has a detailed will, for example, the task may be easier. If a family member dies and there is not a written will in place, it can cause stressful situations for some families. Trying to figure out how to divide heirlooms can lead to tension if not done properly. 

The hardest items to divide are typically small items with lots of memories rather than large, seemingly more expensive items. Pictures, collectibles, dishes, and jewelry – can all be a cause for trouble. 

Ways To Divide Fairly 

Take turns picking items and roll a dice to see who goes first. This can work well in families that are close and don’t have resentment. This method may surprise you with what certain members value. Lay out all of the smaller possessions that could lead to tension and go in order to select a possession. This may sound silly, but it can help relieve the stress associated with choosing someone in the family to divide the possessions. 

Place stickers on items that you would like to keep. If there are a bunch of people in your family, dice rolling may not be suitable. Another great option is to have each family member choose their own unique sticker. Let them go around and place their sticker on items they would like to keep. In the end, items with one sticker will go to the person who chose it. Items that have more than one sticker, turn back to rolling the dice. 

Price out the value of expense items. When it comes to items with a real monetary value, get them appraised and distribute the items out so everyone receives similar values. If your loved ones are more interested in the item itself rather than its value, refer to the two previous examples. 

Make copies. VHS tapes, photos, and other important documents can all be turned into digital files thanks to technology. This means that virtually anyone can receive a copy. Whatever the item is, find out if you can make a copy of it. It will help everyone to feel like they can take home a piece of their loved one that they just lost. Make a plan to have one family member keep them in a fireproof safe and allow everyone else to make copies. Whatever your end goal is with old mementos, digitalizing them should be done regardless. It will be great to have passed down in the family from generation to generation. 

Avoid Family Tensions 

If your loved one had a will in place with clearly defined distribution, make sure you follow that appropriately. If they decided who should get what possessions, then you should honor the will by following those directions. If you’re the executor of the will, don’t approach it as “my way or the highway.” Your job as the executor is to simply read what your loved one has written and distribute the items accordingly. Remember, you are all still a family and you’re going through a rough time, but you still have each other. Don’t jeopardize a healthy family relationship for a few inanimate objects. 

Don’t leave anyone out. Did your sister really like the rocking horse that belonged to your grandma? Let her have it. What about the nurse that took care of your father? Even if they aren’t immediately involved with the family, they may want a small memento from someone they spent a lot of time with. Although an item may seem obsolete to you, it may mean something very special to someone else. Rather than throw it out, communicate with those around you and find the best home for it. 

Don’t donate immediately. When your loved ones pass, you may think about how you need to get rid of their things immediately to help grief. Moving too quickly in a time when you’re emotionally unstable, will not end well. If you happen to throw things away that would have been reported in the will or an item that someone truly cherished, you could start arguments within your family. The best course of action is to wait until everyone has had a chance to come together, read the will and pick up all the items they wanted. Once the will has been executed, you can start making arrangements to donate or recycle the remaining items. There are many places that will accept donations such as; shoes, clothing, furniture, etc..

Contact Wyuka 

For over 140 years, Wyuka Cemetery has played an integral part in the lives of Nebraskans. We know that the possessions of your loved ones hold a special place in the heart of a family, but you can’t let them get in the way and disrupts a healthy family dynamic. 

At Wyuka, we want to help you through the grieving process. Whether it be through the pre-planning of a funeral or helping you understand the will, we’re here for you. 

Give us a call or stop by to speak with one of our outstanding staff members. 

(402)-474-3600 | 3600 O Street Lincoln, Nebraska 68510


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