Your Guide to Money Etiquette
Q. My late grandfather’s belongings are being divided among family members. Should I offer to buy any valuable pieces that I want?
A. Yes. Unless the deceased specifies otherwise, the executor of the will usually distributes smaller items among the heirs equally. So if you covet something that’s worth a great deal (a grand piano, an oil painting), you should offer to pay the estate its fair-market value, says Jack Marshall, president of Pro-Ethics, an ethics training and consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia.
Of course, your relatives might not take you up on your gesture. But if they do, consider hiring an appraiser to determine the item’s worth. Emotions tend to run high in situations like these, and people can have a sentimental attachment to certain objects, says Marshall. If you compensate the estate for the item, no one will feel cheated and you can enjoy that vintage rug guilt-free.