There’s a great book called “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate” which is put out by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. It’s a kind of how to guide for dividing personal property when someone passes away. Often it is things with sentimental value that tear families apart after a death. Did your family have a special tradition, your mother a favorite Christmas tree ornament, your father a pipe or carving that brings back fond memories? How items like this are divided upon a person’s death can cement a family in fond memories, or re-ignite old scars and power struggles.
There are different ways to approach dividing personal property – ask the people who are important to you what things they value. You might be surprised by what they say. You can give things away while you’re alive, or make a list of items and recipients. Often such a list is mentioned in a will; it should be signed and dated. After a person has died, the family may gather to divide things up; do this with a plan and some thought. Who should be there, where should the conversations take place, when should this happen?
And of course, don’t forget to have this conversation about your pets. We joke in my family that the turtle will be going to the nursing home with me because it’s likely to live longer than I do…I hope it’s only a joke!