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Dividing family heirlooms: What seems fair
Berny Unruh

What is fair when a family has to decide how to divide family heirlooms? Join Berny Unruh, Cottonwood Extension Family and Community Wellness agent at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Great Bend Activity Center, 2715 18th Street, Great Bend.

When families must divide up personal possessions belonging to a loved one, it can be a very difficult and emotional process. If a family member has to move from their current location or if there is a death in the family, transferring the non-titled property may create more challenges than the titled property. There is no clear-cut definition of what is fair but there are several ways to at least help get a conversation started. 

Paring down and transferring personal property are inevitable when owners move or die. Non titled property is a term referring to personal items without a legal document (such as a title). These may have more monetary value and often times more sentimental value. These include furniture, dishes, collections, needlework or quilts, jewelry, tools or toys. 

Marlene Stum from the University of Minnesota has spent many years working with families on transferring personal property and she identifies six primary factors to consider: understand the sensitivity of the issue, determine what you want to accomplish, decide what is “fair” in your family, belongings have different meanings for different people, distribution options and handling Conflicts. The program will include how to handle these situations.  

Be sure to write noon, Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Great Bend Activity Center on your calendar and plan to attend. 

Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District. She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at