Nothing brings out the true colors of a family until an inheritance must be divided. As for the actual legal act, it can be as simple as just the division between siblings and their heirs or it can be as complicated to include the siblings of the deceased plus the children of the deceased. It can be very involved and sometimes better left to the wills, trusts, and probate attorneys, but for this article the focus is on the various ways siblings of baby boomers can divide that inheritance.
The difficulties in property division begin when there are less than desirable conditions under which the estate must be settled. All estates regardless of how large or small will pass through the respective states probate court. Once the estate has processed through probate court, then the settlement of the estate can begin. Initially, the main concern of all families during this very emotional and sensitive time is that all of the existing debts are resolved. The remaining balance is the portion that the family has for the actual division of property. Some of the initial situations with siblings concerning the final settlement of an inheritance are the following:
Deceased sibling w/ heirs
Only children w/ step-parent
Adopted children w/ siblings
Children when parents are not married
Unknown bastard children
All of these situations have their own criteria and set of problems when inheritances are divided. As one can see, all of the above can make for a more complicated issue of settling any property situation regardless of residency or status.
Given the above situations and the straight forward division of any inheritance, many families have found simple and efficient ways in which to carry out this task when the time comes. Some of the following ways are suggested as simple and straight forward methods for dealing with the final disposition of any estate.
For example, one family after the estate passed through the local probate court, simply hired an auction house and held an estate sale of all property. Once the auction house had marked everything, each sibling could pick something for memory, and then all other items were sold. The proceeds from the final sale paid all remaining debts and anything left was divided equally between the siblings. In another instance the family liquidated all assets prior to death. They divided equally among each sibling the proceeds and transferred all property before it was mandated by the probate court.
However, what one family did and was not necessarily fair to all siblings involved, but the parent transferred all assets to one sibling, the only male, and he was to give to the other siblings as he saw fit. This does not seem even conceivable in today's society, but it happened. Basically, the other siblings were totally shut out of the process, and left with no recourse. Certainly this is not a fair and equitable way to divide an inheritance, nor is putting everything into a trust with one sibling as a trustee leaving the other siblings out.
While the last examples are not fair, they do happen so it is worth mentioning simply so that there is no misconception regarding inheritance division. Regardless, of the method used to divide an inheritance, so long as all siblings are kept informed as to the disposition for all assets, then the method chosen should flow smoothly especially at a time when all emotions are running high and the situation is so sensitive.