When it comes time to distribute your assets to your family after you die, you’ve probably already thought about the big issues if you have created an estate plan. However, you’ll also want to consider the little things, especially items of personal property that may hold family or sentimental value. Family conflicts can arise over disputes about who will inherit personal property.
Because personal property isn’t always specified in detail in a person’s last will and testament, it can be useful to create a personal property distribution letter. This letter, unlike your last will and testament, is simply a list in which you state your desires about who should receive the personal property. You can then include it with your estate plan as a guide to your executor or successor trustee.
Your executor or successor trustee is charged with distributing your estate, and it eventually will fall to him or her to make determinations about who will inherit your personal property. Whether you choose a family executor or trustee, or an executor or trustee who has no experience with your family, significant arguments can arise over who should get sentimental property. If the executor or trustee doesn’t have your guidance, this can be a problem.
However, the personal property distribution letter allows you to make specific inheritance choices without have to update your will or trust every time you change your mind or acquire new personal property. You should also include a reference to the personal property letter in your will and/or trust so there is no legal difficulty in your executor or trustee using the document.
This type of planning is available when you work with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.