Expensive Jewelry and Your Estate Plan
Probate disputes about items of jewelry that belonged to the deceased person happen more often than you might guess. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether it is the sentimental value or the appraisal value of the jewelry that is the true cause of the conflict, but this does not make the conflicts any less bitter or any less preventable. Whether it is two sisters battling it out over which one gets to keep their mother’s wedding ring or one brother who wants to keep the family heirloom jewelry to pass it down to future generations against another who wants to sell it to fund the next generation’s education, these disputes always have a compunctious winner and a heartbroken loser, unless you decide what will happen to your jewelry before the conflict even has a chance to get started. A Hillsborough County estate planning lawyer can help you build a strategy for appraising the monetary and sentimental value of your jewelry and accounting for it appropriately in your estate plan.
Much Ado Over a Rolex Watch and a Diamond Ring
Peter and Fana married less than two years before his death at the age of 95. Their prenuptial agreement granted Fana rights of survivorship to the couple’s marital property, while Peter’s nonmarital property was to pass to his estate after his death and be inherited by his son William and other family members. After Peter died in 2010, William and Fana became involved in a dispute over a Rolex watch and a diamond ring that Peter bought several months before he died.
Peter was a retired jeweler, and he loved wearing fine jewelry and shopping for it. On a shopping trip with Fana, William, William’s wife, and one of William’s friends, Peter bought a $53,000 Rolex watch and an $18,000 diamond ring, which he proceeded to wear every day. He paid for most of the cost of the jewelry from his and Fana’s joint bank account, but it was not enough to cover the entire price, so every member of the shopping party also contributed cash from his or her wallet. Peter used to keep the watch and ring in his suit pocket in his bedroom closet, but when he was admitted to the hospital just before he died, he gave the items to Fana to put in her purse for safekeeping. William argued that the watch and ring were nonmarital property belonging solely to Peter, and therefore they should go to his estate. Fana claimed that they were marital property, bought during the marriage with money from Peter and Fana’s joint account. The court ruled in favor of Peter.
Contact an Attorney for Help
Your Tampa probate lawyer can help you plan ahead to prevent disputes about valuable items of personal property, such as jewelry. Don’t assume that, just because one of your family members would not want to wear the jewelry, he or she automatically does not want to possess it. Contact David Toback for a consultation.