Siblings can be your best friends, but at times, they also feel like your worst enemy. You know the best and the worst about your siblings, which is both a good and bad thing.  When a parent passes away, a sibling is the one person who can truly understand what you are going through as they, too, have lost a parent. Take this time to reminisce and strengthen your bond.

Typically, a parent’s will simply stipulate that their possessions be divided up amongst their children.  There are no further specifics, the parent trusts their children will do the right thing, support each other, and decide fairly who should get what.

When the time comes to go sort through your parent’s belongings and decide how to divide them up, remember that you want to honor your parent through this and not spend the time arguing over material possessions.

Step One – The Will

Read the will.  See if your parent made any specific requests regarding how certain possessions should be divided up amongst family members.  Then honor the will, it is how your parent wanted their possessions to be handled.

Step Two – Most Treasured Items

Take your time and let each sibling choose one, two, or even five (decide on a number before beginning) possession(s) that mean the most to them, have the greatest sentimental value, and that they would like to keep for themselves.  If you have decided on five items, but that is causing conflict as siblings are now arguing over the same item, lower the number of items each sibling can choose, or prioritize your top five items as to which has the greatest sentimental value.

Step Three – Family Auction

For all of the items left, hold a family auction.  This can now go beyond the siblings to others you want to give the opportunity to enjoy a treasured memory from your loved one in years to come. Give everyone a set of amount of ‘money’ to bid on items.  They can then bid on those items that mean the most to them, that they would like to keep for themselves.  Once everyone has spent their ‘money’, if there is still interest in remaining items then give everyone another amount of ‘money’ and let them go through the process again.

Step Four – Sell

Any items that have not been chosen should now be sold.  This can be done through an estate sale, online websites such as eBay or Craig’s List, newspaper ads, garage sale, etc. – all depending on how you want to proceed, the number of items left to be sold, and the value of said items.  The money raised can be split evenly among the siblings.

Step Five – Donate

Any items you are not able to sell can be donated to a charity or goodwill store. Think of it as someone else gaining enjoyment from the item.

Step Five – Throw Out

When you cannot even donate the item, then it is time to simply throw it away.


These are just some suggestions regarding how to divide a parent’s estate amongst siblings.  Remember, relationships are more important than material possessions, so place your relationship with your siblings higher in importance than the objects left behind by your parent.