Dealing with a Lost Loved One’s Estate: How to Get Started

Dealing with a Lost Loved One’s Estate
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Nov 21st, 2017

Losing a loved one is difficult for everyone, no matter the circumstances surrounding the passing. Whether it was expected or not, surrounded by family and friends or traversing the grieving process alone, losing someone you care about is never easy. The time that follows can be complicated and demand more bureaucratic and legal attention than you’d like to give while you’re spending time together with family healing.

When it comes to sorting out what to do with your loved one’s estate, there are no set rules and no practices that are judged poorly. What’s most important is to follow the procedure that you and your family feel is right while receiving the emotional support you need along the way.

What to Do First

In the initial aftermath of your loved one’s passing, be sure to take inventory of what is included in the estate. Take care to notice what’s valuable both in terms of material property and documents, and keep these safe from theft or harm until the time to resign ownership. It can be helpful to write out a list these items and documents or accounts, and have them ready when exploring insurance claims or benefits.

If your loved one has left a will, the executor will read and follow what’s been outlined. Every family member is at liberty to read the will as he or she wants to, and discuss together how things will proceed. It is very important to respect what’s been outlined in this document as these were the wishes of your loved one.

As he or she is no longer around to confirm these wishes, making any blatant changes to the will is not only disrespectful, but firmly looked down upon. Following the will is the first step in dealing with the estate and probably one of the easiest parts of the process. Once all or most belongings are divided up according to the will, the family can begin to work out what will happen to the remainder of the estate together.

When There’s Not Much Direction

If there is no will, or if not much in terms of property or materials is outlined, it is best to gather as a family if you can and sensitively approach the topic of discussing which members would like to keep which estate items.

In this case, family members will usually make it known if there is a piece of the estate or jewelry that they feel especially connected to. If it has a special memory or life event attached to it for one person and not others, it is customary to allow that person to keep it. If you’ve given a piece of jewelry or a gift to your loved one and that is now included in the estate collection, it’s also customary that it should now be transferred back to you.

Otherwise, the best practices remain to be open to meeting and having discussions with your family about which parts of the estate they feel strongest about owning. Usually, these decisions can be worked out quite easily with some openness and understanding. If there are truly disagreements and some members feel unfairly treated – that others are getting more valuable parts of the estate than they are – it’s common to agree to bring the entire disputed collection to an appraiser.

At that point, you can split the appraised value equally, or redistribute individual pieces according to estimated worth. Once the distribution of the estate has been decided and agreed upon, it’s each individual’s right to keep or sell what they have inherited. Either choice is respectable and selling any part of the estate should never be looked down upon or any make any person feel judged.

If the process becomes overwhelming or too much to handle on your own, you and your family could benefit from hiring an estate agent. This person will manage to attain the proper valuation of property and belongings, and will be of assistance when it comes to making insurance claims and tying up any loose ends.

How to Stay Sensitive to the Situation

Going through your loved one’s estate can be quite mentally exhausting. There may be a lot of items in terms of sheer volume to sort through which not only takes time, but be emotionally draining when respectfully considering and acknowledging each piece of the estate. If at any time it proves difficult to reduce estate pieces to mere property, try to connect certain pieces with a nice memory of your loved one.

Associating a memory or sentimentality with a belonging of your loved one can make it more pleasant to keep or give to other family members. Of course, there will be many items that don’t have these feelings or nostalgia tied to them, making it easier to donate or sell these pieces of the estate.

READ ALSO: 6 Ways to Turn Inherited Jewelry Into Meaningful Tributes

It is important to remember that you are not alone after the loss of a loved one. While painful and extremely personal, this is something that everyone experiences at some point during their life. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out for support from those who have dealt with loss before, and make it a point to lean on your family and friends if you’re having a difficult time.

The grieving process is different for everyone and always takes time and contemplation. Be a source of support to other family members who are going through it as well, and use each other to move through this difficult period. Many people seek out the assistance of a grievance counselor to help make sense of what they’re feeling in the absence of a loved one, and to learn grieving techniques. If you are struggling, there are many ways to explore finding some solace and peace throughout this demanding situation.

Worthy is proud to be of service to people facing these difficult and sensitive times. We are always available to lend thoughtful support when it comes to deciding to auction jewelry. We know the process of selling inherited jewelry can be overwhelming. That is why we are dedicated to get our clients a fair market value for your inherited jewelry in a secure and convenient way.

Worthy Staff

Worthy Staff

The Worthy Blog is a place for inspiration, insight, and advice for all things surrounding life's greatest transitions - divorce, losing a loved one, retirement, and so much more. You can find us on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook.


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