When a family member or friend passes away, their loved ones must begin the process of following the instructions they have left behind in their will. A carefully written will includes directions for the beneficiaries and the assets to be inherited. Often, the will is intended to divide assets equally between beneficiaries, such as children or siblings. In today’s blog from Davidson Law Group, we discuss the details of dividing an estate equally among beneficiaries.
Assess the Value of the Assets
Assessing the value of the assets in an estate can be difficult. Certain assets are valuable for sentimental reasons, such as family heirlooms. Other assets are valuable for financial reasons, such as real estate or investment portfolios. When dividing assets equally, it’s best for beneficiaries to assess the value of sentimental assets separately from financial assets.
After weighing the value of sentimental assets, it’s time to turn to financial assets. This may include investment portfolios, retirement accounts, banked and unbanked cash equivalents, business interests, real estate, and other property. Assessing the value of investment portfolios, retirement accounts, and cash equivalents is relatively easy. Determining the value of businesses, real estate, and other valuable property, however, can be quite difficult. It is best to consult with an experienced estate attorney when assessing the value of these more complicated commodities.
Consider Real Estate Carefully
Real estate poses additional questions when dividing an estate equally among beneficiaries. Should you simply sell the property and divide the revenue? Should you keep the property and share its uses? Or would you prefer to appraise the property value, assign the property to one beneficiary, and allocate an equal value in assets to the other beneficiary? Decisions such as these will require a careful reading of the will, an accurate appraisal of the property, and consideration for the needs and desires of the beneficiaries.
Assess the Priorities and Needs of Beneficiaries
While it is important to divide assets equally among beneficiaries, their priorities and needs may differ. Perhaps one beneficiary lives out-of-state, while the other lives in the same town as the loved one who passed. In this case, the real estate in the will may not be a priority for the beneficiary out-of-state, but it may be a priority for the beneficiary who lives close by.
Situations like this call for a balanced assessment of the priorities and needs of beneficiaries. This will help divide assets in a way that is reasonable, fair, and worthwhile to each of the recipients. Clear communication between beneficiaries — guided by the will executor and a trusted estate attorney — can help to distribute assets in the most beneficial way possible for all parties.
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Follow the Instructions in the Will
Some wills leave room for flexibility in the way the assets are divided among beneficiaries, while other wills are very specific. It is important to follow the instructions of the will to the letter and in good faith. The process of assessing the value of the assets and assessing the needs of the beneficiaries is important, but it must be carried out within the boundaries of the will. Probate is a legal proceeding, so it’s important to follow the will’s instructions carefully and completely.
The Estate Attorneys at Davidson Law Group Are Here for You
The preparation of a will and the handling of an estate can quickly become complicated. Even with a simple and clear will, it’s often difficult to balance the beneficiaries’ interests. At Davidson Law Group, our estate attorneys take the time to truly get to know your situation, so we can help guide the estate and the beneficiaries to an optimal outcome. Contact our team in Fort Worth, Allen, or Tyler today to learn more.