Michele Lerner, contributing writer for The Motley Fool, recently spoke with McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus to take a deeper dive on a recent chapter of the firm’s educational series, “‘These are a few of my favorite things’ – Top 10 Considerations when Planning for Tangible Personal Property”.
She this week published a very interesting article based on the conversation that’s definitely worth the read. Lerner’s story, “Stop Family Feuds Over Inheritances Before They Start,” shares colorful examples, telling stats and “5 Tips to Prevent Family Fights Over Heirlooms” from McManus.
From the write-up:
“More than 50 percent of the lawsuits we see are about items that have a total asset value of less than 10 percent of someone’s estate,” says John O. McManus, an estate attorney and founding principal of McManus & Associates in New York City. “The toughest part about family fights over a piece of jewelry or a painting is that it isn’t about the value of the item, it’s about what it means to loved ones.”
McManus goes on to say:
“Fighting over personal property is the match to the tinderbox of emotions…Sometimes feuds start because of lingering resentments over who worked the hardest to take care of Mom or Dad when they were sick or even over who got the biggest scoop of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving every year.”
To illustrate the all-too-common occurrence, Lerner shares several examples from John:
In one case, McManus says, a woman had her sister arrested for stealing less than $100 of clothing from their deceased mother’s apartment. In another case, brothers split in a lifelong feud over their father’s watch.
Lerner captures McManus’ key advice at the end of the article with “5 Tips to Prevent Family Fights Over Heirlooms”: Here’s what made the cut:
1. Make an inventory.
2. Share your list with family members.
3. Appraise your property.
4. Set up a jury system.
5. Write a personal property memo.
To get more details on each of these five tips, check out the full story here.
From jewelry to art, cigar collections to fine china, dividing tangible personal property equitably among loved ones after death can be a major challenge for an executor. In order to keep the court from stepping in to divide the pots and pans –a task no judge desires– direction on how to allocate specific items should be given (rarely explicitly mentioned in wills).
In a new conference call led by McManus & Associates Founding Principal and top AV-rated Attorney John O. McManus, learn about unique ways to plan for division of specific personal tangible property and special planning considerations for unique items such as music, art, wine, scotch and even gun collections.
LISTEN HERE: “‘These are a few of my favorite things’ – Top 10 Considerations when Planning for Tangible Personal Property”
After listening to the discussion, you’ll have answers to the questions below. Don’t hesitate to give McManus & Associates a call at (908) 898-0100 if we can be of further assistance.
1. Is it appropriate to use a personal property memo to capture personal items? Can enforcement of such a memo be guaranteed?
2. How do we catalog our personal property in a memo? Should items be specifically insured?
3. How to plan for art, jewelry and the use of a life estate for personal property, especially in a second marriage.
4. Are you a history buff with collection of Revolutionary and Civil War rifles? Who can you leave them to? Details on fiduciaries who need special licenses or permits.
5. How will pets, especially rare or exotic species be provided for?
6. How do you transfer and value intellectual property, Copyrights, projected sales, music and art?
7. Illegal transportation across state lines? Expensive transportation? Wine or gun collections, a grand piano? How to plan for covering expenses and proper transportation.
8. If you are named a fiduciary, what tasks should you consider taking now to ensure you are protected during probate?
9. Do you have bank accounts worldwide? Considerations to simply the probate process? Are you filing annual disclosures for FBAR?
10. What strategies can you use to ensure an equitable distribution of personal property when considering certain highly valuable assets?