When it comes to money and stocks, it can be fairly easy to divide up your wealth. Giving a percentage of your cash or portfolio to your beneficiaries is straight forward as it doesn't matter which fraction they receive as those types of assets are fungible. However, when you only have one family photo album or one grandfather clock, these assets are typically not able to be easily divided and quite often can lead to bitter disputes over what mom and dad would've wanted. A recent case involving a bitter dispute between siblings is reminding me that these fights happen all too frequently despite easily being able to be avoided.
To avoid those types of fights, planning ahead enables you to potentially resolve the fight with limited "bloodshed". Iowa Code section 633.276 (2007) provides that an individual can leave a signed and dated list to dispose of certain types of personal property. Thus you can determine who gets grandma's wedding ring, mom's fine china, dad's shotgun, etc. This type of list does not need to be notarized or witnessed, but just signed and dated. As this is such a basic procedure not even involving the services of an attorney, there is no excuse for not making a list of your property items. Isn't it worth doing everything possible to preserve family relationships?