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Estate administration: A plan to divide personal property

As often happens, when a relative passes on, his or her family members more often than not are left with furniture, different types of collections and piles of old books and magazines from their life. Collections and items are difficult to organize. The computer age can aid Maryland residents in estate administration, by providing software to compile an inventory to figure out the value of items.

However, determining which family member gets what and how to figure out what to do with things that receive no interest is certainly not a new problem. In one example, a 56-year-old woman, along with her siblings, had to accomplish this task after her father passed away.

They formulated a method to determine which person desired what items prior to even meeting. The initial task was to create an inventory, which she began once her father was diagnosed with cancer. Professionals say to take care of estate administration prior to one's parents passing away, if possible. Take inventory of items in a parent's house by taking photos and getting dimensions. Then, consolidate the information and centralize it.

One can download a no-cost application that helps with estate administration by building a home inventory -- some programs cost only a few dollars. Smart phones can also be used to take pictures, document information and store the data. The woman who took the lead in dividing her father's possessions ran a family meeting to divvy up the items. Each sibling who wanted something could express their interest before the meeting. Items in which there was no interest were either sold or donated.

This process is seen as a peaceful resolution and can prevent fighting and bad feelings. Estate administration varies from family to family, but those who can develop a civil and methodical way of determining how to divide these possessions may benefit from it in the long run. Understanding how Maryland estate and probate law works will give all family members a more complete picture of how inheritance and probate matters are handled, whether or not a will or trust is involved. There are many financial, personal, and legal matters that must be taken into account when determining who receives what during this legal process.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How To Divide An Inheritance When A Relative Dies," Mitch Lipka, April 25, 2012

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