Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 177-202

First online:

Families and Inheritance Decisions: Examining Non-Titled Property Transfers

  • Marlene S. StumAffiliated withFamily Social Science, University of Minnesota

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This study examines the transfer of personal possessions, which is a dimension of inheritance decision making from which few families are exempt but which largely has been ignored by researchers and educators. The qualitative analysis of a purposeful sample of individual family members who had experienced a transfer of non-titled personal possessions suggested the influence of six key themes. These included: (a) a sensitivity of the issue, (b) lack of goal discussion, (c) different perceptions of “fairness,” (d) different meanings of objects, (e) lack of awareness of distribution options and consequences, and (f) potential for conflict. The themes identified reinforced that inheritance is not simply an economic or legal issue but one with complex emotional and family relationship dimensions. The findings provide the foundation for further research agendas and for developing educational resources to help family members communicate about and make more informed decisions regarding the transfer of non-titled property.

family inheritance non-titled property intergenerational transfers estate planning fairness