One of the challenges in both estate planning and in post-death administration is personal property. During a lifetime, many individuals accumulate vast quantities of personal property including but not limited to jewelry, china, furniture, textiles, antiques, and the like. Few people have the stamina to go through and catalog all of their possessions or make decisions about which if their heirs, if any, should receive each item. Moreover, circumstances change and items that were once valuable may become obsolete (like an eight-track tape collection) while marginal property sometimes ages and becomes more valuable over time.
Likewise, trustees and administrators are often left with the emotionally challenging task of fairly dividing up a lifetime of personal property among beneficiaries or heirs. As the old adage goes, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Some items particularly have little or no commercial value but immense personal value to the heirs or beneficiaries. How does one divide grandma’s favorite quilt among competing heirs without cutting it into pieces? The division of personal property can often be one of the more stressful aspects of estate administration.
Recently, a new web site has offered a creative solution bringing market forces to the equitable distribution of personal property. According to its promotional material, eDivvyup is an online auction site designed specifically to help with the division of the deceased personal’s property. Operating in a fashion similar to eBay, an auction on eDivvyup is a private auction restricted to invited participants. The trustee or administrator catalogs the deceased’s personal property and allows the beneficiaries or heirs who are interested to bid on it. As aptly stated on the eDivvyup web site, “While specific items may hold sentimental value for you, they are not worth the fighting and long-term damage to relationships.” Thus heirs and beneficiaries can express their true desire for particular items of personal property through the efficient application of market forces.
While not necessary or appropriate for every estate, the eDivvyup site appears to offer a novel solution to an age-old problem of dividing personal property that may be commercially worthless but emotionally priceless. According to the site, eDivvyup offers its services for $49.99 for the first 50 items and an additional 99 cents for each additional item listed. If you find yourself facing a King Solomon dilemma, eDivvyup may be just the solution.
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