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Why is sentimental value so difficult to calculate?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Probate

One of the main reasons for estate disputes is simply that items being left to different heirs have sentimental value. This is a type of value that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the financial value of the product itself. It causes people to give too much weight to that specific item.

Essentially, sentimental value is just based on emotion. People care about something far more than it would be worth if they were to sell that item. It may only be worth a few dollars, but they may fight harder to get it then they would fight for something worth thousands of dollars, all because of that sentimental value.

Disputes are common

The first part of this that is difficult is that disputes are quite common, and part of the reason is that there’s usually only one item. A dispute over a financial asset, like a bank account, just means that the heirs don’t agree on how the money has been divided. But an item with sentimental value can’t necessarily be divided in the first place, so there may not be a solution that makes all the heirs happy.

When this happens with other assets that are tangible, heirs sometimes sell them and split that money. They may sell a classic car that their parents owned, for example. But if that car has sentimental value, then selling it is pointless. None of the children want the money that the car is worth. They want the car itself. Selling it would just disappoint everyone, meaning that this may not be a viable solution, even though it appears to work from the outside.

Those who do find themselves in a long-term estate dispute may need to know about all of the legal rights that they have and the steps that they can take.