Hi there. My name is Bridget Mackay. I’m an attorney in Petaluma, California. I practice in estate planning, wills, trusts, probates, and trust administration. Today I want to talk to you about including personal property in your will or your trust. We spend a lot of time when we are doing this type of planning, describing our wishes and the areas including the care of our minor children, distribution of assets, health decisions, and even burial arrangements. But we often overlook our personal property. You may think your personal property getting divided is not a big deal, or that your heirs will sort it out when you’re gone; but sometimes the failure to outline your wishes about family heirlooms and other emotionally valuable personal property can lead to problems and often sometimes family feuds.
Clients I’ve seen on occasion, families get torn apart because mom did not write up who got her wedding ring, yet promised it to all her daughters. verbal promises can’t be used in a trust administration or a probate of a will. Though you can minimize some of these complications that could arise and come up when you’re gone. You need to create, sign, and date a formal memo about your wishes of the important items assigning them to heirs by name of who gets it and what it is. You can even give directions as to any non-specific items to be divided up, by choice or donate it to the local thrift store. All those items that maybe don’t have the emotional pull or the heirloom status, you can say how you want those treated as well. Keep that signed, dated, formal memo with your estate documents, your current will, or a trust; so that your successor, trustee or executor can find it easily.
As always, if you have questions, please consult a experienced estate planning attorney.