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Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Sibling Rivalry and Family Heirlooms


Is this what you want your next family reunion to look like? If not, then be smart about how you deal with the issue of heirlooms.
Is this what you want your next family reunion to look like? If not, then be smart about how you deal with the issue of heirlooms.
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Heirlooms can be treasured mementos of family members and eras past ... or they can be several thousand kilotons of TNT dropped into the center of a nuclear family. Even siblings who generally respect each other can start up a feud over well-intended, but poorly received, bequests.

Parents' handling of the heirloom process has a lot to do with how smoothly things will go after they've passed. On one end of the spectrum, you have parents who give no thought as to how their precious possessions will be divvied up after their deaths. On the other, you have parents who embrace the process. These parents discuss with their children who should expect what after they're no longer in the land of the living.

Which is better when it comes to managing sibling rivalry? Pretty inarguably the latter. It might seem easier (and less macabre) to just let children divide things up post-passing. But in the wake of a parent's death, even the most loving siblings can wind up at each other's throats.

So what do you do? Let's start with the will.