How is personal property distributed?

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How is personal property distributed?

Who gets mother’s jewelry in safe deposit box? Brother is executor on Will and is responsible for “tangible personal property”. I had POA, now successor trustee of RLT, only one with safe deposit key. We went to bank and he took pictures of the jewelry. Think sister is causing trouble saying that I took all jewelry. Fortunately I had jewelry list in mother’s handwriting and all jewelry is there. Brother wants to sell jewelry and split proceeds and I am against this. Pay for items that I want? Prefer a fair distribution among siblings, #1 picks an item, then #2 picks. Brother says not fair If #1 picks expensive piece. What to do? Get appraisal?

Asked on August 27, 2010 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

How much each sibling gets is governed by will, if there is one, or by intestate succession, if not. Say that under either, the 3 siblings would split the jewlery. Unless there is something in a will specifying exactly how they are to be distributed (e.g. "Julia gets the necklaces, Janet gets the rings, Jack gets the watches"), then the usual way is (if the parties can't agree) to sell and distribute the proceeds. However, nothing stops a sibling who wants a given piece from being the purchaser of that piece--paying the estate for it--though getting a reputable outside appraiser, from an appraiser agreed-upon in advance by all interested parties (to avoid later conflict) is well-advised.


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