Is a percentage a good way to go for heirs?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is a percentage a good way to go for heirs?

I am the trustee of a friend. She is leaving percentages of her estate to some of her
relatives and organizations. It’s not a large estate but she has a lot of ‘stuff’ that
would need to be sold. We’ve talked about other options and I feel as if they would
be waiting forever for me to sell her things.

Asked on February 18, 2017 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There really are only two ways to go: 
1) What your friend wants: sell all the properties, items, other assets, etc. and distribute the money by percentage; or
2) Give each person some of the actual objects--then they an keep them, trade them, sell them, etc. as they choose. 
The first approach works well if the "stuff" is of such different values that no way to fairly divide the items themselves is possible and also if there is no sentimental, aesthetic, or collectable value to most of it--i.e. it's only worth whatever it will bring in. Even if takes a long time to sell, this is probably the best way to deal with a collection of "stuff"like this.
The second approach works well if the  belongings or assets have some value other than monetary (e.g. artwork, china, jewlery, collectables, etc.) and if collectively, there is enough "stuff" of roughly equivalent value that they items can be divided fairly.
The approaches can be mixed of course: for example, if the friend has a nice jewlery or art collection as well as other "stuff," physically distribute the art and jewels immediately, then over time sell the rest and distribute the money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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