How to Dispose of Your Tangible Personal Property

Your estate plan is likely to include a variety of what are referred to as “specific bequests.” A specific bequest is when you name a particular person to inherit a certain item, such as a piece of personal property. You may have made many specific bequests for tangible personal property items such as family heirlooms, art, or other things of particular sentimental or financial value. The truth is, however, that most of us have more tangible property than would make it reasonable to provide a specific bequest for each. Think about everything you own: clothes, kitchen items, household items, pictures, and much more. The question then becomes, how do you provide for the rest of your tangible personal property in your estate plan? In more legal terms, how do you dispose of your tangible personal property?

How to Dispose of Your Tangible Personal Property

A standard will often provides a definition of personal property that includes an extensive list including clothing, household furnishings, dishes, books, pictures, and other comparable assets owned by a person at their death. Sometimes, the definition will specifically provide that tangible personal property does not include cash nor securities just to be clear on this point. When you are deciding how you want your tangible personal property distributed after you pass away, you have a number of options and should carefully weigh which option might be best fitting for you and your family.

Parents will usually leave their personal property all to their spouse and then to their children. The children are given a specified amount of time, usually 2 or three months, in order to go through the tangible personal property and decide who gets what. Any disputed items are sold and the proceeds pass to the residuary estate. Depending on family dynamics, however, leaving the tangible personal property up for grabs among the children or certain specified heirs can spell disaster without further instructions provided.

To help manage the potential for chaos, some testators will specify in their will that tangible personal property is to be distributed to a certain group and that, in order of youngest to oldest, each member of the named group may choose one item from the tangible personal property and then the next person gets to choose and so on and so forth. This round robin type affair goes on until everything that no one wants any of the property remaining. The remaining property is then sold and the proceeds distributed equally to the members of the group. Alternatively, the personal representative of the estate or some other specified individual can also be empowered to distribute the tangible personal property as they see fit.

Estate Planning Attorneys

For all of your estate planning needs, you can trust the dedicated team of estate planning attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace to help. We are here to create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your own needs and that of your loved ones. Contact us today.