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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Make Things Easier for Your Family and Executor(s)...Designate Personal Effects in Your Will

This article from Mark Goodfield, aka The Blunt Bean Counter, is a must-read for anyone planning their wills. I'd also recommend it to executors who are wondering how on earth they are supposed to divide up personal effects with no guidance from the will.

The article covers the area of personal effects and household goods of the deceased, a mine field of problems and struggles if not properly covered in the will.

Click here to read the article.

Another tool that we can use to help out our families and executors is a Memorandum of Personal Effects, or as most people refer to it, a "list". I am referring to a hand-written list of names of family members together with the items you would like them to receive upon your death. This is a popular idea, but has its drawbacks, so you must make sure you are doing yours correctly if you want it to be a help and not a further cause of strife.

A Memorandum is often confusing because the deceased forgot that it was going to be read by someone who isn't a mind-reader. Some of the most common causes of confusion are:
- referring to "my favourite ring" or "my mother's earrings" or some other characteristic of an item that nobody will be able to identify;
- referring to "my necklace" when there are several necklaces;
- referring to the beneficiary as "Joe", when the deceased has an uncle named Joseph, a cousin named Joseph Jr., and a nephew named Joey;
- including items that cannot be included in a Memorandum, such as sums of money or real estate. Including these items may turn your Memorandum into a will, may revoke your current will, and definitely cause even more confusion for your family.

The best idea is to ask your lawyer about the Memorandum at the time you are making your wills, and to receive some instructions and ideas from him or her.

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