Moral question - priceless family heirlooms vs. garage sale
We're three siblings, me, a brother and a sister. Mom is 80 and has Alzheimers' and recently moved into a assisted living facility, where she has her own furniture and can keep her own stuff. She is content with what she has there with her.
My brother got power of attorney for her (don't know if durable; we dont talk a lot but are slowly improving communications due to Moms condition; I am thankful he stepped up in regards to Mom though).
She loved to collect china, porcellain dolls and jewelry and most of it she left behind in her house. Mom has a buyer for her house and it'll be sold soon for a good price. It also has to be emptied out soon, which is our job to do. My brother handles the sale now, since Mom can barely remember what she did 10 minutes ago. Her Alzheimers progressed rapidly in the last few weeks.
She has a very good chunk of money in savings, so that's all good for her future ahead. Perhaps she will not need Medicaid at all, and the money will outlast her.
Here is the problem:
my sister found out that my brother took a desk for his son who's in college from Moms house after Mom moved out of her house. My sister is furious and says that absolute nothing should be taken from the house by the family, but an appraiser should come in to assess everything in order for an estate sale to happen (in order to empty the house to sell it).
My opinion is that I don't think it is worthwhile to pay an appraiser and do an estate sale, but a garage sale would do. Her furnishings and stuff really isn't anything fancy, most aquired at garage sales and in thrift stores. You would never believe that she has a hefty bank account, if you would see what a simple, ordinary house she has. But then, the humble life made that hefty bank account possible, no question.
My brother says that a garage sale would do, too, after he would research the value of some of her stuff on ebay etc, namely her china, jewelry and the doll collections. Before a garage sale, we and all our kids (Moms grandkids) should have a chance to pick stuff out to keep, he says. I don't know if he meant the grandkids should pay garage-sale-price for the picked-out stuff or not. But either way, free or paying for it, it would be okay with me.
I have no interest in any family heirlooms from her house. The only inheritance (later on) I am interested in are part of the family photos, which are with Mom at her facility and there they are in a safe place until she dies. Theres absolutely no rush in receiving them, in my opinion.
I agree with my brother in the bigger picture: its nice to have something that reminds us of her, since we want to empty the house before it is being sold.... yet morally (and legally I think) I tend to think that all proceeds from all her liquidated estate should go to Mom in a fund for her, since SHE IS STILL ALIVE. Yeah, the fund might still be here when she isn't here anymore... but isn't that legally in her best interest?
Mom might live another 10 or 15 years; she is physically in excellent health; its the Alzheimers' that got her.
Now, honestly, all the valuables add up to perhaps a couple or three grands.... to be fair, that's not even half of her months' rent at her facility. -- Those same valuables or family heirlooms, are priceless, on the other hand. I get that.
Her money for affording to live in a facility will come out of her savings and out of the sale price from her house. In comparison, the proceeds from her furnishings/stuff/family heirlooms seems like a drop in the ocean to me, so in a way the choice to simply give away the priceless family heirlooms to family members seems logical. Yet.......
None of us siblings is interested in putting her furniture and stuff in a storage unit... that would just drag things out. As I said, Mom could live another 10 years. Something has to be done now and soon before the house gets sold, but what???
Some of the adult grandkids, namely mine and my sisters are making noise that one of the grandkids got that desk, but they didn't get anything. Why weren't they invited to the house to choose something, if that one cousin got a desk?
This ol' desk, worth perhaps $10 in a garage sale, rubbs the grandkids the wrong way.
Its the principle, they say. We should get something NOW, before someone sells it off.
I have no idea what to think. I understand that the adult grandkids want some family heirlooms from Grandma, yet Grandma is still alive!
At this point, I think, no one trusts anyone here and if one of us siblings would want to safe-keep some of moms collections (as I said, put them in a storage unit or in a box in the basement or a bank deposit box), someone else would accuse him or her of taking something.
We siblings MIGHT get into an agreement, which would probably be my sisters preference: an appraiser and an estate sale (with the money put in Moms fund), but what do I tell my kids then? They will raise hell that they didn't get this doll or that plate or the other special-to-them wall clock for free from Grandma.
It is as if the Grandkids (unfortunately even including my own kids) take inheritance two generation down for granted these days even before the person dies!
(On the other hand I might sound ungrateful and unappreciative because I am willing to sell off family heirlooms so Mom gets 2K in her fund.
I am tired and disappointed in my family that they are arguing about these things and filling up their minds with these material things... yet most of them are to busy to come visit their Grandma and just BE with her.
I heard about families who get in fights over the inheritance, but I didn't think families would argue about "stuff" long BEFORE the person dies.
So, basically, my question is this:
what DO you do with such valuables/furnishings when there are more siblings and/or interested parties that can't agree on what to do with them, and Mom isn't capable of deciding herself?
Who is right? The grandkids who want a dispersement of the family heirlooms already?
Or my sister who wants to keep everything in the house until an appraiser comes and then the stuff is sold for MAYBE a couple of grands? In this case, since there is not much valuables, I believe the appraiser would profit the most from the whole thing and nobody would get any priceless heirlooms, except by bidding on it; yet most of the grandkids have barely any money themselves, so chances are small that they would get something thats priceless yet valuable, as they all hope.
My brother tries to do the right "family thing" and disperse some things among the grandkids. He got a bit ahead of himself and gave his own kid the first choice in picking.... oh well. Shouldn't have.
Legally I think, my sister is right, but because of the minimal value of the stuff an appraiser and a big estate sale dont make much sense.
Mom was very attached to her things and I THINK if she would have a clear mind and could decide what to do with her stuff, she would much rather see it go to her family and to those who appreciate her stuff than to be sold at a garage sale or estate sale.
I am torn on how to advise both of my brother and sister.
Please tell me your honest opinion. Maybe I got it all wrong.