When a parent passes away, adult children may return to the childhood home. It’s an emotional, sentimental time. They see those familiar rooms where they ate dinner, watched movies and grew up with their parents. The house feels strangely empty and quiet. It really brings to light how things have changed.
At this time, a child may be tempted to look at the different sentimental items in the home and take something to remember their parents. It could be a book they remember reading as a kid, a painting that hangs in the living room, or a set of dinner plates they’ve had for decades — just to name a few examples.
But can you take these items?
As much as this can feel cathartic and even necessary, it’s not wise. One of the first steps, before the estate enters probate, is to go through and inventory all of the assets that the parents owned. This is supposed to be done, in most cases, but the estate executor.
It’s important to follow the proper timeline. Even if you are the executor, you don’t want to remove these items. Instead, make an inventory of them and then compare it with the will to see what your parents instructed. They may have already noted who should get which items or at least how these items should be divided — and it’s probably not on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Probate can be a confusing and emotional process. As you work through it, carefully consider both your legal options and your obligations. The more you know, the more smoothly things will go for all involved.