The brotherly brouhaha came about after noted Manhattan interior designer David Barrett died and left his two nephews — Richard and Alan Barrett — “equal shares” in his $5.6 million estate. The estate included a $45,000 piece of art that the brothers flipped a coin over to determine who would take home the painting.
Richard lost the coin flip — and then flipped out, filing a lawsuit to get ownership of the painting, which held up payment to the two estate executors and his brother.
The lesson here is obvious: simply splitting an estate without detailed bequests can, and often does, lead to estate litigation.
The better solution is also a simple one: take a complete inventory of your personal property, and then designate a recipient for each asset.
Make these designations via a valid will, or even give them away while you are still living so there is no question as to who you intend to inherit your prized possessions.
Alternatively, consider taking pictures of each item of personal property and writing the name of designees to receive each item on the back of the image. Reference the images in your will.