‘Mum wanted her possessions divided equally, but my sister kept all her valuables!’

Aug 16, 2019
You don't just get to pick what you want from a loved one's estate, unless all the beneficiaries agree. Source: Getty.

Q. My mother’s will stated that all her possessions were to be divided between the three daughters. The sale of the house was equally divided, however the eldest daughter has kept all of the valuable items, like our mother’s jewellery and the few valuable pieces our mum had. What rights do my younger sister and I have to these personal items?

A. Your mother’s will is a prescription for who she wants to get what. She wanted you three daughters to have the jewellery equally. The eldest daughter is not entitled to retain what she has unless it is the result of an agreement between all three of you. It appears it was not.

Usually what happens is that, if the items are worth obtaining valuations, they can be valued and then the beneficiaries need to agree on how best to distribute them as equally as possible based on those values. It is not always possible to do it equally based on value and this is where sentiment and common sense often clash.

You need to let your sister know the above and see if common sense can prevail by suggesting you all sit down and agree on how to distribute the items.

If you have a question for Starts at 60’s money experts, email it to [email protected].

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