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Dallas Estate Litigation and Planning Blog

How to Figure out How to Divide My Estate Amongst My Heirs

Imagining what life will be like for your family after you die is difficult. It is one of the main reasons people put off making an estate plan in the first place. However, the idea that your death may lead to arguments among your heirs over your estate can be a particularly painful thing to think about. It is not uncommon for siblings to argue about who should get what, and due to the emotional memories attached to many possessions, these confrontations can become serious very quickly.

One of the chief purposes of a well-considered will is to prevent the drama that can come about when there are unclear intentions about how assets should be distributed. By communicating with your family and anticipating the kinds of problems that may arise when you are gone, you stand a much better chance of ensuring that your passing does not have any unnecessarily adverse effects on your heirs or their relationships with one another.

If you, or your loved ones are facing questions on how to divide assets, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced legal team at Staubus and Randall today. We’re here to help.

dividing assets

Prioritize the Most Important and Valuable Items

When drafting your will, avoid making it overly long by attempting to list every item in your possession that you want to keep in the family. Instead, create a list of the most valuable and important items, and attach that list to your will.

It might be helpful to have a conversation with the members of your family about the items that each person holds most dear. This can help you to make these decisions and broker compromises if more than one individual wants to inherit the same thing.

You can create this list informally before you collaborate with an attorney to execute your formal will. Alternatively, you can write the attachment afterward. In either instance, while this document does not need a witness, it may be a good idea to have the statement witnessed and dated if you think there is a chance that it might be challenged. Either way, be sure to keep the statement with your will so that it is readily accessible to your executor.

Other Options

If there are valuable items that nobody expresses a particular wish to own, you can direct that these items be sold. For example, if you have a highly valuable piece of art, you can choose to have it auctioned off after your death. The proceeds can then be distributed equally among your heirs.

You can also get appraisals for your items ahead of time so that you can understand their monetary value. This can allow you to stipulate how to distribute the proceeds when high-value items are sold. Alternatively, if one of your heirs expresses a particular desire to have one of these items, you can stipulate that they can buy out those who would be otherwise entitled to a share of it.

One further option would be to employ a lottery system to distribute physical items. The executor of your will can preside over the process, and each heir can draw a number to determine the order in which they will select the items that are available. Contact us today.

Lifetime Gifts

You may also wish to consider giving some of your assets away while you are still alive. Doing so will reduce the amount of work that needs to be done when you are gone. There are a few things to keep in mind when you make gifts to your family:

  • Ensure that everyone is aware that you are giving something away and to whom. Otherwise, there may be accusations of theft after your death.
  • You have the option of making a “deed of gift” for physical items, which will allow you to maintain possession of them while you are alive.
  • Be aware that there may be considerable tax consequences for your heirs if you give away items that appreciate greatly in value.
  • Have a conversation with your estate planning attorney so that you can understand all the implications of making gifts during your lifetime.

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Speak to a Dallas Estate Planning Attorney Today

Even if you think you are dividing things in a perfectly fair way, there may be unconsidered circumstances that can lead to disagreements. For example, if one of your children has spent a lot of time and resources caring for you later in life, they may feel that they deserve a greater share of the estate than their siblings do.

Speaking with the Dallas estate planning attorneys of Staubus and Randall can help you understand how your individual situation should determine how you divide your assets. We will do everything we can to ensure you have all your bases covered so that your family has clarity about your estate after you have passed. Call us today at 214-691-3411, or reach out online for a consultation about how we can best help you.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

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What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."

Jody

"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."

Martha

"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."

Joann

"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”

Karen

"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

David

"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)

Flo

"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)

Janet

"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”

John

"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."

Kathy

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

Larry

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