Personal Property List for Will
In many cases, wills are difficult and time consuming to draw up as well as to amend. A personal property list for a will can assist you in making amendments without the need to change the entire will or even contact your attorneys. This can prove to be extremely useful, especially if your will is written up a long time before you die.
Essentially, a personal property list for a will is a list of tangible items and who you would like them to go to after you pass away. This list can be written or printed, and can be signed without the need of a witness, allowing you to update it often.
The only thing you need to ensure is that someone knows of the existence of the list, and knows where they can find it in the event of your death. In some cases, the easiest thing to do is simply to give the dated list to the trustee of your will.
It is not always necessary to date a personal property list for a will, but it is highly recommended as it proves which personal property list is the most recent and should be considered.
What does a Personal Property List for a Will Look Like?
A personal property list for a will is a relatively simple document. As mentioned above, you don't even need to type it out, you can write it if you wish. But, you need to make sure that there is a physical copy that is signed and dated available upon your death.
Usually, it is a list of items with the names of the beneficiaries. It is highly recommended that you describe the items to some extent so that there is little to no dispute amongst your family and friends after you pass away.
Example of Personal Property List for a Will:
I, XXXX, hereby bequeath the following tangible items to the following people, as per the provisions made in my will.
Grandmother's Brooch (flower, pink gem)
Crown Collection Cutlery Set (bone handle, silver)
Signed and dated:
What Can You Add to a Personal Property List for a Will?
It is important to note that many of your assets will not be viable for the personal property list section of your will. Your belongings can be split into two categories; tangible and intangible.
The intangible items such as money, stocks, property etc. are not eligible for the personal property list and the recipients thereof should be specified in the main portion of your will.
Instead, the personal property list portion of your will is intended for tangible items. As a broad generalization, consider this to be anything that can be touched and moved with your bare hands. Some examples might include things like furniture, jewelry, art and even vehicles in some states.
It is important to keep some record of the cost of the items, because they are variable over time the estate tax implications can be very difficult to determine without the given prices.
It is also important that you do not list items in the personal property list that you have also listed in your will itself.
The personal property list is not an amendment to the will, and cannot change what is written within it on the day that you die. This discrepancy will only cause complications and emotional strife amongst your beneficiaries.
When Do You Need a Personal Property List for a Will?
There are multiple reasons why you might want a personal property list along with your will. As mentioned above, it is far easier to change a personal property list than it is to redo an entire will every time that you want to change something.
However, there might be some specific instances where a personal property list is recommended more.:
1. Divorce and Remarriage
In the case of a marriage most people leave all of their possessions to their spouses. However, if it is a second marriage then there might be some items in your possession that once belonged to your previous spouse.
In these cases it might be recommended to create a personal property list to specify which items you may want to leave to your children instead of your spouse.
Although many assume that their relatives will be civil and look out for one another after their deaths, this is not always the case. If you have it in writing then there are no questions about what goes to whom.
For example, your children will get their great grandmother's antique dresser, keeping it in the family, but your spouse will keep the dining room table that you bought when you first got married, even though it looks very similar to grandma's.
This is only one example of many instances where a second marriage might complicate things.
2. Multiple Children
In the case where you have multiple children, some children might want certain items for particular reasons. This may be because of a memory or certain sentimentality that is attached to that item. If you have a list, specifying which child gets what, then you remove any opportunity for argument.
Additionally, you may have one child who has proven to remain more level headed than others and state that you wish for that child to take care of the division of your tangible items rather than the others.
3. Early Inheritance
In some cases you might want to give an item away before you die. In cases like this, you can still add it to the list so that it is clear that the person who has the item in their possession is the person that the item was intended for.
Again, this just removes accusations of theft and opportunities for strife.
A personal property list for a will is very convenient. Not only do you know that you can change it at any moment, but you can also have the peace of mind that it will minimize strife after your passing, and that it will make dealing with your estate a lot easier. It is worthwhile finding out if it is possible in your state.
You might be also interested in a Personal Property Trust and What is a Separate Property Trust?