Help with my Father's Estate : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Dad passed in October without a will. I am one of eight siblings and am the Administrator of his estate. The problem is the eight of us have never been able to agree on anything! Right now, I need to make a decision on the most fair and equitable manner in which to disperse of the estate. I feel an auction would be best. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you, PL

-- Phil Long (, January 15, 2002


It may be worthwhile to cunsult with an attorney or legal services to devise the most equitable approach. You could possibly talk to a contracts law instructor at your local community college.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, January 15, 2002.

A lot depends upon the nature of the estate. Auctions are usually quick, but there may be resentments after the fact if the money isn't what is expected-depending on your siblings. I don't envy your situation, but I would say that a consult with an attorney would most likely be quite beneficial. There are different laws in different states that may apply as well.

My condolences on your father's passing. I hope it was peaceful...God bless and I wish you the best in this.

-- Doreen (, January 15, 2002.

How about this? (believe me; you will not get what stuff is worth at an estate auction)

Have a "closed" auction, just for your siblings. Anyone can buy whatever they want, at the highest bid.

-- joj (jump@off.c), January 16, 2002.

I have an attorney lined up. I have had the estate appraised, the guy said he would appriase at what he would expect things to bring at auction rather than what he thought it would cost to replace them. Some family members want to buy the estate, some want to auction, there has even been mention of a tag sale. The closed auction sounds like a good idea. All I have asked is if someone buys the estate, they are responsible for clearing out the house. My other concern is that by selling the contents to a sibling, is it fair to the others that it didn't go on the open market? It's not a lot of money, but I have some family members that eally could use it more than others. That's my dilemma.Thanks for your response.PL

-- Phil Long (, January 16, 2002.

Have an independent appraiser determine the value of the entire estate (house and all) on the open market (not a real estate agent, who may lowball it to buy you out cheap), and let that be the price if a family member wants to buy out the others, and divide the proceeds equally. If they can't buy it outright cash, then a mortgage of some sort will have to be set up.

What do you mean some "could use it more than others"? I don't mean to be nosy, but it can cause even more resentment depending on whether the others agree with you or not. For example, if someone was a drug addict or alchoholic, I might give them some money for a live-in kick- the-habit program, but only if they were serious, and tie up getting the rest of their share to staying clean. Someone who is in frivolous debt up to their eyeballs shouldn't get extra bailout money (that's why I'm a big fan of equal shares). I read somewhere that if you have disabled people to provide for, you have to leave them money the right way (a special needs trust, I think it is called), or then they are no longer able to get any government aid because they have too many assets. See a lawyer for that.

So, overall, whatever you do, I think equal shares across the board is the way to go. Oh yes, be sure to deduct your fair share of expenses from the estate, not from your own pocket.

-- GT (, January 16, 2002.

Phil, you dont mention if your siblings are all the same gender if not then you should consider that in some families the boys wind up with all the 'boys stuff' and the girls get left with the 'girls stuff'. Now this might be ok but it gets a bit unfair if your mum went without for years so that dad could add to his collection of antique motor cycles.

-- john hill (, January 16, 2002.

Dad didn't really have a lot. The Contents of the house was appraised at <$4,000.00. The few items that are wanted by anybody are wanted by everybody! I feel the appraisal is somewhat low. The family members that want to buy things, want them because they are a bargain at the appraised price. The other siblings that are not interested in buying items deserve market value. I have been to auctions and have seen things go both ways. Some times high and sometimes low. Plus there is the commission. Yard sales are a tremendous amount of work, and the family is spread out all over, so my brother and I would bare the brunt of it. What to do?

-- Phil Long (, January 17, 2002.

Phil, have you fully apprised the other family members of these facts, including that you and your brother are going to charge a fair amount for your time against the estate?

If they can't come to an agreement (say Sally and John both want an armoire) in a reasonable amount of time (say 30 days), sell everything, and split the money up evenly. You should not be tied up forever over mere material goods, you have a life, too. Point that out to them as well. It is bad enough to be grieving and then have to deal with family arguments over "stuff". I'm thinking of you.

-- GT (, January 17, 2002.

Phil, my mother got stuck in the same position you are in now. Her solution was to put a price tag on each item in the house. Every sibling got a certain amount of "money" in their account. They could use this imaginary money to "buy" items they wanted. If more than one person wanted the same item, their names were put into a hat and a drawing was held. The one whose name was drawn got the item and the appropriate amount was deducted from the person's account. They used imaginary money because one of the sisters didn't have the cash to actually pay for anything up front. Some were disappointed, some were downright P.O.'d for a little while, but in the end they all knew it was fair and got over it. I don't know if this will work for you or not, but it might. Good luck.

-- Green (, January 17, 2002.

joj, has the best solution. Unfortunately this also will require that your seven siblings, and you come to an agreement. Most likely you somehow will be the bad guy for generations to come. Good luck.

-- Ed Copp (OH) (, January 19, 2002.

Phil, I am so sorry for the jam you are in. The bad thing is that no matter what you do, it won't be right in your sibling's eyes. Why not have the estate auction on a date when all siblings could attend. That way the highest bidder gets the pieces that everyone wants (even if an outsider ends up with it, your sibling didn't want to shell out the money for it). The money is split among all siblings, end of story. Of course chances are the story will never end because your siblings are going to be resentful no matter what you do. Good luck, let us know what happens. And for you people out their without a will- is this what you want happening after your gone?

-- Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania (, January 20, 2002.

Dear Phil----- Oh my----you are left in the hot seat---- Phil for many years my hubby & I have bought out households just like your Dad's. We go in & look around & give a bid on the whole house hold----from the underware in the drawers to the cleaner under the sink & all the rest--- Then I recommend to family /what I feel are Antiques or family keepsakes--that could bring more money if sold to dealers/ or sold /or kept by family--- now I'm old so not all people are as honest any more about those things---- but there are many still out there /who do buy out house holds!! We don't do it any more------as we have gotten tooo old & it is too much work for us--- I have also worked with friends who do estate sales----they go in & price everything---second day prices go down on things that have not sold & then usually 3rd day the price is half--- the company that does the sale usually gets a flat rate for doing the sale & then a percentage of things sold. This gives the family a chance to buy things that are priced by the estate sale appraisers.

I have sold things at auction & it is usually was a buyers market---I won't ever sell anything at auction again--- I buy at auctions but not sell!!!!

The house could be sold by owner---at appraised price----is an option

These are just a few options---- maybe you have thought of them all-----but I just wanted you to know-- -that with working with most families /that no one can agree-on who should get what----an estate sales company /who comes in & appraises & prices everything for an estate sale has worked well-----as everyone has to buy at the appraised price at the estate sale--- When my hubby & I bought out house holds we went in & bought it all--- -moved it out all & cleaned up after & it was a clean & empty house when we were through----since we bought everything we usually asked the owners to get more than one bid------ then they saw /we had done our very best to deal the best we could--- also I will remind you /I also told family of what was antiques if they were not aware & what was probably family keepsakes---that family should keep--etc/etc/ I also helped them find dealers for the antiques & sometimes I was the top bidder on those things also!! I have worked with families like yours for over 30 years---all I can tell you---is you can't please everyone & if you are a God fearing man pray about it---make the decision you feel is the best one you can make & then just live with it--knowing you did the best you could & you can't please everyone & then if you have not made out your own will----do so as soon as you can!!!! I have worked for 30 years with people who have had the same decisions to make you are haveing to do---& I know it is not easy & you can't please everyone---- I can tell you are a careing man---& I'm sure what ever decision you make it will be fine----I'm sure that is the reason your were the one choosen to take this task----may God be with you!!

-- Sonda (, January 21, 2002.

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