Selecting Estate Silver with Your Siblings: Squabbling or Solving?
So your mother passed away and it is time to divide up the family silver. Her Will simply said that her tangibles were to be divided in approximately equal shares among her children, leaving you to figure out how to do so without fighting with your siblings. Your sister and you both want the silver to pass on to your children someday. Your brother on the other hand does not care about the silver but wants a fair share of the value. On top of that, your brother’s wife is urging him to select at least some silver from the estate to pass on to their children.
Sound familiar? Here are solutions you can propose to avoid World War III.
Split the Set
Normally a set of sterling silver flat wear contains 64 pieces. The set may also contain a coffee service, serving platters, trays, etc. You can divide the set into logical components such as:
- 40 piece dinner service
- 20 piece dessert service
- Large tray
- 3 smaller trays
- Coffee Service
You now have 5 components of roughly equal value. So you institute a round robin system. Draw straws to see who goes first, second and third.
Sister one might choose the dinner service because she entertains every holiday season.
Sister two might choose the trays because she would like to hang them on her kitchen wall as a collection.
Brother might take the dessert service because his wife has always admired it and she can tell her children stories about dessert with grandmother.
If no one chooses the coffee service (because it is too much work to clean and use), then simply sell it and split the proceeds.
If both sisters insist on keeping the set together agree on a rotation system such as:
- Even years: Sister one keeps, cleans and uses the set
- Odd years: Sister two keeps, cleans and uses the set
- Or rotate every three years.
- Or five years.
Set a rotation date right before the holidays or right after.
Keeper delivers the silver to sister or pays for shipping to sister.
By the way, brother is happy not to clean any silver sets. He can either:
- Select another estate item (such as a piece of jewelry) to give to his wife.
- Select another estate item (such as a painting) to put in his office.
- Take the cash and spend it on a golf trip away from sisters and wife.
Just remember: be creative, be collaborative and respect others choices