Determine interest among beneficiaries in non-real estate assets
The deceased’s will typically outlines what each beneficiary is to receive money-wise or in a percentage of the estate. However, wills vary greatly in terms of how detailed they are in distributing personal property. Resolving how personal property will be distributed can be a source of great conflict within families and must be handled with great care. The issues can be complex. For instance, a coin collection might have both great sentimental value and great economic value. A son or daughter who collected coins with that parent might feel an inherent right to it. However, if the collection is potentially worth a lot of money, other beneficiaries might feel that they deserve their appropriate share of that value.
An informal conversation with each of the beneficiaries will help you understand what items in the estate are of interest, or if they would simply prefer the assets to be liquidated and the proceeds shared amongst the beneficiaries of the will. In general, we recommend not undergoing this process until the real estate is under contract, so that you can get all relevant items in one place to make the process as efficient as possible (and you can actually distribute all home-related assets at the end of this step on a timely basis).
If you are struggling to maintain positive relationships among beneficiaries or are being accused of acting inappropriately in the executor role, getting an estate attorney involved can be wise.