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Don’t Forget to Tell Them How to Share

Personal property can be an important part of many people’s lives. Whether it is something that has monetary value or something that you have collected for many years, certain items hold a significant place in your heart. Figuring out what to do with these items when you are no longer around to enjoy them can be quite the task. This is especially true if you have multiple loved ones who you would like to receive your personal property. Without your instructions, this situation might turn into a disaster. People may start fighting or hiring lawyers to sue each other to determine what is rightfully theirs. You can help prevent this from happening by providing your loved ones with instructions. The following are some ways you can divide your personal property to help maintain harmony among your loved ones.





Draw Numbers and Take Turns Choosing

One method for dividing personal property, especially if you have a large collection of similar items, is to have each beneficiary draw a number and have them take turns choosing items in sequential order starting with the person who drew number 1. Once the last person chooses, the person who drew number 1 can start the next round. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 3: 1, 2, 3, 4)


To mix things up a bit, once everyone has had an opportunity to make their first selection, the person who drew the largest number can start the second round, continuing in reverse sequential order. For the third round, the person who drew number 1 can start, and the selections continue in sequential order. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 4, 3, 2, 1; Round 3: 1, 2, 3, 4)


Alternatively, after choosing sequentially in the first round, the person who drew number 2 can start the second round, and the selections continue in sequential order, ending with the person who drew number 1. Number 3 starts the third round and the selections continue in a similar pattern. (Example: Round 1: 1, 2, 3, 4; Round 2: 2, 3, 4, 1; Round 3: 3, 4, 1, 2)


Number Items for a Drawing

This process can work if you have many items of similar value. Instead of having the beneficiaries figure out who gets what, they could leave the decision up to chance. With this method, all items that are to be distributed are numbered, and a set of corresponding numbers are placed in a hat or bowl. The participants then choose a number and get the item that matches their number.


Auction With Fake Money

If there is an item that more than one person wants, one way to solve this is through an auction. During the auction, each participant is allotted an equal amount of fake money. Then, each item is presented in a random order, and the participants bid on the items they want. The highest bid wins. This helps ensure that the person who wants it the most gets it, but it also means that people may not receive the same monetary value.


Use Stickers to Stake Claim

Another way to divide personal property is to give each beneficiary the same number of colored stickers (with each person getting a different color) and have them place stickers on the items they want. If an item has only one sticker, the person who chose it gets the item. If an item has multiple stickers, beneficiaries can discuss what to do with the item. This allows beneficiaries to identify items that need to be discussed while quickly dividing items that are not in contention.


Sell Everything and Divide Proceeds

Sometimes, when more than one person wants something, there is just no compromise or solution. In these situations, you could sell the item and divide the proceeds. While this may not be a desirable solution, sometimes there is no other way. Unfortunately, this method only works well with items of high monetary value. Purely sentimental items may not be worth much, in which case an alternate method may be needed.


Need Help? Bounce Your Ideas Off of Us

We understand that this can be an emotional and time-consuming experience. We are happy to help you think through the available options and draft instructions that fit your unique situation and convey what is most important to you. Give us a call to discuss different options and select the one that is right for you.



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