Usually, when someone dies, most big assets like houses, cars, shares, and savings can be easily distributed because they are the ones mostly accounted for by a will. It also details instructions on the funeral services to be carried out according to the deceased’s wishes. But what about the remainder of the possession, which in most cases are personal property not covered by will? These possessions, which may seem small, elicit important memories and carry a lot of sentimental value. They can be difficult to divide and may create tension in the family.

What choices do you have?

In some rare instances, the deceased may have included a section in the will detailing how personal possession should be handled. The will may indicate that all personal possession should be sold and the proceeds used for charity while others may recommend that only a specific member of the family should benefit from these possessions. Inspecting the will for ideas on how possessions should be divided is important.

If there aren’t any directions determined by the will, you can consider some of the options outlined below:

1. Be charitable

If you aren’t sure about what you should do with personal possessions, one of the places that can benefit are your local charities. They can go a long way in helping others in need, and it will be a good opportunity to honour your loved one. If your selected charities prefer monetary donations instead, you can sell the possessions then donate the proceeds under the name of the deceased.

2. Get appraisals

This goes for items, such as jewellery, watches, antiques and coin collections, that have real monetary value. Find out more about their worth and sell them before splitting the proceeds. The money can also be used to cover some of the funeral costs – especially if you are not able to claim full reimbursement from the deceased’s estate if it’s worth less than $50,000, according to Singapore’s Probate and Administration Act.

3. Distribute among family members

Surviving family members can take turns to pick whatever they want, which can also be a good bonding opportunity to go through your shared past. During the deceased’s lifetime, there may have been possessions that were treasured by specific members of the family. Allowing them to own their preferred item can be deeply appreciated.

Family distribution of property may sometimes spark conflict when a consensus is not reached. To get around this conflict, each person should:

  • Take turns to pick whatever they want at the same time
  • Use labels to indicate which item has someone’s interest, so it can be easier to make the distribution
  • Digitize physical copies such as sentimental newspaper clippings, photographs and certifications which can be evenly distributed among family members.