You may think you have a solid estate plan, but does it truly cover everything? The late actor Robin Williams had a will, trusts and a premarital agreement in place at the time of his death. Yet his family members are still feuding about an important piece of his estate -- his personal property.
Personal property, including furniture, photographs, jewelry and collections may not be the biggest assets in one's estate financially, but they can be some of the most sentimental and highly fought over. However, there are some ways a person in Maryland can create an estate plan that can help to avoid such contentious fights.
While it may not be possible to name an heir for every single piece of property one owns, it may be possible to consider which pieces of personal property are the most meaningful to one's family, and create an estate plan that includes who is to inherit these cherished items. It may help to discuss the matter with one's family ahead of time, to see who would like to inherit what after one's death.
After one executes their estate plan, they should communicate to their family members who will be receiving what upon their death and why those choices were made. This information should be memorialized in a signed and dated document or in the person's will. Heirs may be less likely to fight if they know what their loved one's intentions and desires were. That being said, try to be fair. While this doesn't mean each heir needs to share equally in the estate, devising a method that splits things in a neutral manner may be helpful.
As this shows, estate plans naturally consider big ticket items -- the family home, automobiles, stocks, bank and retirement accounts and others. Yet sometimes it is the seemingly little things that lead to an ugly probate court battle that drags on for months. By making sure to include the sentimental items in one's estate plan, it may be possible to avoid such disagreements during what is an already emotionally trying time.