Equitable and non-confrontational process for dividing parents' possessions once they're gone?

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My parents have asked us (siblings) how we plan to divide up their possessions when they're gone. They are uncomfortable making firm decisions and putting them in their wills, especially "one of a kind" sentimental items like moms wedding rings. If your family used a process that worked well (or was a disaster) it would be great to hear from you. My sibs perceive inequitable giving to each other by my parents in the past and I will be executor putting me on the hot seat to be fair to all. They want to know this will be done fairly before they go. Thank you.


Your parents are still living. Can they suggest a method?

My husbands grandmother told the family to put their names, date on the items they would like to have. Each member put their name, date and taped it to what they wanted. Grandmother asked this of the family before she developed alzheimer's and it worked well for my husbands family.
My aunt lived to 100. In her late 80s she began to distribute her possessions. I visited her and found an oil cloth on her dining table -- she had given the lace tablecloth I was used to seeing there to one of her children. Likewise her scrapbooks. Her collection of yearbooks she promised to the local library. The nice bookcase at the top of the stairs went to a son. She gave me a small glass pitcher I admired. By the time she went to a nursing home the valuable or sentimental items had been already distributed, and it was relatively painless for her children to sell her house.
My husband and his siblings used two methods. The jewelry was divvied up according to their birth order, except for one ring listed in her will. That ring caused a war (the other method worked great) but hey, it was in the will so what could they do? All of the sibs selected their favorite furniture for themselves or their kids and that went well. The remaining articles were sold in an estate sale. No matter how much they loved one another, there was still bickering. The shock of losing their mother unexpectedly and deep grief probably contributed to frayed nerves.
In my case, mom disowned me and everything went to my sister. God only knows what happened to everything promised to me and my children or the things we had loaned mom. We would've liked some of my father's items but in the end, it wasn't worth fighting over. Family dysfunction was alive and well, mom made sure of that.
I hope you get a plan of action in place Dahlia beforehand. Grief, sadness, and yes, greed can make even the best of us turn into people you don't know.

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