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  1. #1
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: Alabama. My brother passed away in May and his wife had died 8 years earlier. Total value of the estate is approximately 4 million with very little cash. Assets are real estate, antiques, jewelry, vehicles and artwork. I am just getting a handle on the assets and debts but can tell that the there will be challenges. His furniture was left to 4 stepchildren. The artwork was left to 2 nieces. The jewelry to his sister, the vehicles to me and the remainder to be split between my sister and I. We are his only siblings, our parents are dead and he had no children of his own.

    The 4 stepchildren do not get along with each other or with my sister and I. The furniture and artwork is located in 3 properties. My initial thought was to recommend that the 4 stepchildren take turns selecting what they want and then have an estate sale along with items not specifically covered in a bequest. I'm trying to keep things cordial and thought that this would be the easiest way to dispose of the contents of 3 homes. The return on furniture would then be split between the stepchildren. A similar process would be used for the artwork and the nieces. Anything else sold would be split between my sister and I. My wife suggested that I just give them X number of days to remove the furniture but I feel like that would not be proper. At the time of his death, my brother was not on speaking terms with 2 of them because he had stopped helping them financially (they are all over 55). These two have threatened to take us to court because they feel like they are entitled to everything.

    Enough background. What is the best way to deal with the furniture and artwork?

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    Of course you have an attorney for the estate, right? These would be great questions to ask him/her

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    278

    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    The first step (after getting an attorney) is to get an inventory and appraisal of everything. Also you said there is little cash. Are there any outstanding debts that exceed the available cash? If so some things may need to be sold to cover them, which may generate more hard feelings among the heirs.

    How to deal with the furniture and artwork is less a legal question than a diplomatic one. I don't think anyone here can give you a "best way" to handle it, but in general if the step-sibs feel like they have a say in the overall process that determines who gets what, they'll likely be more accepting of the outcome than if you point to a truck and say "there's your share, now go away".

  4. #4
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    Oct 2014
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    These two have threatened to take us to court because they feel like they are entitled to everything.
    And you can tell them that step kids get nothing other than what is in the will, so taking the estate to court will get them nothing more than what you are offering them now.[/QUOTE]

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    The attorney represents the estate and likely you. And that attorney is paid out of the estates funds, the pissed-off step kids have to pay their own lawyer.

    But like was stated earlier, you need an appraisal in case you have to liquidate some items for costs of the estate. An appraisal will help you spread the cost equitably. It will also probably be need for any estate taxes depending on the laws of Alabama

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    2

    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    Thank you everyone for your responses. We do have an attorney for the estate, however I do like to research things on my own so that I ask the right questions. The estate has enough cash to payoff the funeral and final medical bills. There is a 700K loan secured on one of the properties as a line of credit. That house is worth about twice that. The other two properties were already in the process of being sold and should both close in the next 30 days. The will specifically states that the properties be sold to cover any liens or mortgages against them. Appraisals are underway for the remaining items in the estate.

    I understand the furniture / artwork issue is more diplomacy than legal. I also realize as executor I have a responsibility to deal with the heirs calmly and cordially no matter how nasty they become. I'll just take a deep breath and count to a million. But since the will just bequeaths the furniture and does not address selling it, what are my options for forcing the issue. For example, when the first property closes in a couple of weeks and I have to remove the contents.

    Does the estate pay for the movers and storage?
    If so, does this come out of the residual portion of the estate or from the value of the furniture?
    And can I force a sale of the furniture if the stepchildren cannot agree to a division?

    I will be asking the same of the attorney this week but would like be better educated before that meeting.

    This is the 4th time, I have been executor for a family member and this will be the worst. The others were simple splits. Even with heirs that couldn't agree, the others clearly gave the executor the right to liquidate everything.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    I'd have all the furniture inventoried and then moved into a warehouse. Pay the first month storage from the estate. Give the keys to the step-children and let them deal with it.
    Don't make me quote Monty Python at you.

  8. #8
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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    Quote Quoting BooRennie
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    I'd have all the furniture inventoried and then moved into a warehouse. Pay the first month storage from the estate. Give the keys to the step-children and let them deal with it.
    I disagree. We are talking about three separate properties in three separate states. It would be an expensive thing to do and would not necessarily equitably divide the furniture between the heirs. It could open up the executor to claims against him/her.

    My recommendation would be to ask the 4 of them for suggestions on how to handle things.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Challenges Dealing with Multiple Groups of Heirs

    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    His furniture was left to 4 stepchildren. . . . My initial thought was to recommend that the 4 stepchildren take turns selecting what they want and then have an estate sale along with items not specifically covered in a bequest.
    Huh? Is this what your brother's will provides for?


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    What is the best way to deal with the furniture and artwork?
    By doing exactly what the will says or the probate court orders.

    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    We do have an attorney for the estate, however I do like to research things on my own so that I ask the right questions.
    The question is, "What is the best way to deal with the furniture and artwork?" It's exactly what you wrote in your original post.


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    But since the will just bequeaths the furniture and does not address selling it, what are my options for forcing the issue.
    What exactly does the will say?


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    Does the estate pay for the movers and storage?
    What movers? What storage?


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    If so, does this come out of the residual portion of the estate or from the value of the furniture?
    "Residue" or "residual portion" simply means whatever is left over after estate debt is paid and specific gifts have been made.


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    can I force a sale of the furniture if the stepchildren cannot agree to a division?
    What exactly does the will say?


    Quote Quoting jz6x3d
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    I will be asking the same of the attorney this week but would like be better educated before that meeting.
    Better educated about what?

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Quote Quoting BooRennie
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    I'd have all the furniture inventoried and then moved into a warehouse. Pay the first month storage from the estate. Give the keys to the step-children and let them deal with it.
    I disagree. We are talking about three separate properties in three separate states. It would be an expensive thing to do and would not necessarily equitably divide the furniture between the heirs. It could open up the executor to claims against him/her.
    I agree that the suggestion about putting everything in a storage facility and encouraging a free-for-all is absurd on its face. Since we don't know what the will says, making any recommendations or suggestions is ill-advised.

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