My father has recently passed and I am the executor of his estate. He had a lot of personal effects, which my relatives are squabbling over. What should I do?
These personal effects are called chattels. As executor, it is your duty to collect his personal effects and distribute them to the beneficiaries of the Will.
Any chattels not specifically disposed of by your father’s Will or Letter of Wishes, would fall into the residue of the estate. Whilst you require the Grant of Probate to make major financial decisions, you can distribute your father’s chattels without it.
Planning for the distribution of chattels is important. If any of the chattels have significant value, have them valued by an expert. You should also check the estate’s insurance to make sure everything is adequately covered. Once you have obtained a valuation, it is down to you and the other interested parties to decide how to deal with them. For example, does one person take an item for a reduced share in the estate?
Contentious Probate: Things to Regard
Before you dispose of any chattels, such as clothing, ask if anyone wishes to keep anything for sentimental reasons. Arrange for the item(s) to be put aside and inform all interested parties before doing anything with them.
If there is a dispute regarding who should get what, it may be more practical to sell those items at auction. That way, your relatives can still bid for the item(s) they want. You should keep a record and receipts of everything.