Real Time Web Analytics


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giving away your personal belongings

A question that I am asked pretty often is whether a person should list items in a will that they want to give to specific people. The question is about personal belongings like jewelry and family heirlooms.

There are a number of home-made ways that people use to direct who should have certain items after they have passed away, none of which are legally effective. One of the most popular ways is to stick a piece of masking tape on the back of each item and write somebody├Ęs name on it. As I said, this is widespread but not legally effective.

There are two general ways in which you can leave your personal items to certain people. One is by naming them in your will and the other is by leaving a memorandum ( or list) in addition to your will. There are pros and cons to both choices and ultimately the decision is yours as to which method you think is most effective.

If you name the specific items and the specific people in your will, the upside is that the gifts are as legally binding as the rest of your will. The downside is that if you want to change your mind because you no longer own the item or you no longer want that specific person to receive it, you have to change your will. If it happens frequently, it can be expensive and inconvenient.

If you use a list- legally called a Memorandum of Personal Effects - the upside is that it is quick and easy to change it whenever you want to. The downside is that a Memorandum is not legally binding the way a will is.

A Memorandum is intended to be used for household and personal goods (jewelry, artwork, photo albums, heirlooms, furniture, collections, and any items with sentimental value). It should not be used to give away money or land.

If you need to know more about using a Memorandum, discuss it with your estate planning lawyer. Talk about which method (i.e. will or memorandum) would be more suitable for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails