Estate planning is not always limited to the decisions of the asset holder. New Jersey residents who know they are in line to receive an inheritance may also have some work to do. When older relatives make it known that their furniture and other personal property will be left to the family, those heirs may have to help the asset holder decide how the items should be divided. And that division of assets may depend on more than just the likes and dislikes of the heirs. Often, the best first step for everyone involved is figuring out exactly what property will make up an inheritance.
A working inventory is a good place to start. This can be accomplished while the person who is giving the inheritance is still alive, and there are various software programs and websites that are designed to give assistance.
Once the inheritance property is identified, determining its value is equally important. Often, the furniture and other items that grandma or grandpa collected over a lifetime end up as part of an auction or even a tag sale. In these cases, the sellers sometimes have little or no idea of the value of the pieces included. That stamp or baseball card collection may include some gems that are worth quite a bit more than many might think.
While appraising inheritance property is important, another issue is how to equitably divide up the property. When several family members have personal property bequests, one approach is for everyone to first receive an itemized list of the inheritance. That way, each individual can indicate which items are of the greatest personal interest. Once that is determined, it is easier to arrange who gets what through taking into consideration fair market value as well as sentimental value.
Of course, some collections are worth more than the sum of their parts, and those who have received such an inheritance must ultimately decide if they wish to keep the items or perhaps include them as part of their own estate plans. Many people in the Cherry Hill area have confronted these issues, and the best way of going about the matter is to first make some organizational decisions to ensure that items of financial value are identified and those of sentimental value rightfully honored.
Source: Reuters, "How to deal with inheriting Grandma's things," Mitch Lipka, April 25, 2012