You imagine that estate disputes tend to center around high-value assets. Who gets Dad's life insurance payout? How should the children split up Mom's retirement savings? What do they do with the family home, which is worth $1 million in the current market?
Many estate disputes do center around issues just like these. People want to protect the assets that they feel rightly belong to them. They do not want an unfair portion. It's not always greed, necessarily, but it centers on money and people's desire to get what they want -- even if it strains family relationships.
However, it is important to note that many disputes do not have anything to do with high-value assets. They're more about protecting memories than anything else.
The case of the blue bowl
A perfect example case revolved around a small blue bowl. It was just a little ceramic bowl with a handle -- more of a scoop than anything. While it was in relatively good condition, it was nothing special.
When their grandmother passed away, three siblings, who were all adults, fought over who would get that bowl. They all wanted it. You see, when they went to their grandma's home as young kids, she often served them cereal for breakfast. To scoop it out for them, she used that little blue bowl.
They wanted to protect those memories. They didn't need the bowl; they could easily buy plastic scoops for pennies. But they loved those memories of time at grandma's house, something they would never have again. After all, they were no longer children and their grandmother had passed away. Nostalgia set in and they wanted that bowl more than anything.
The kicker: The bowl was originally free. Their grandmother paid nothing for it. She got in in a Christmas pudding box back in the 1950s. It worked well and so she kept it for decades.
Essentially, the bowl had no value. The children didn't want money, and that made it harder to split up. They could not just sell it and split the cash. They wanted the bowl itself. They wanted those memories. With three kids and one bowl, that proved impossible.
In the end, their mother decided not to give the bowl to any of them. She still has it. As she does her estate planning, she now has to figure out who gets the bowl. She said she's considering burying it so that no one gets it.
This case really shows how estate disputes work. People do not always act rationally. Emotions and memories play a huge role. If you find yourself involved in such a dispute, be sure you know your legal options.