Planning for Distribution of Tangible Personal Property

Planning for Distribution of Tangible Personal Property

Individuals involved in planning their estate often focus on assets such as real estate, bank and retirement accounts and stocks. Frequently overlooked are the unique tangible personal property items that have been amassed over a lifetime. These items may hold sentimental value for family members and cannot be equally divided like other assets. This can result in intense family strife if family members are emotionally attached to these items. Therefore, it is important to account for all property in an estate plan since it is tangible personal property that often leads to conflict.

Discussing the intended distribution of personal property with loved ones prior to death is preferable to alleviate later disputes. Those planning estates can explain why they are leaving particular items to certain people so that their loved ones understand their rationale. Children can provide their input, making them less likely to fight or be taken by surprise later on. An individual may give away possessions to loved ones before his or her death by simply asking them which items have sentimental value, or even having adult children express their preferences by putting their names on the bottom of items.

If there are specific items of personal property you wish to leave particular people, you may provide in your will for a “separate writing,” listing the specific items that are to be given to particular persons. Florida law also allows you to change the separate writing list without changing your will.

A comprehensive estate plan has directions regarding how the remaining personal property should be divided. One method is to direct heirs to divide all of the belongings into equal shares, if possible in an amicable manner. Otherwise the personal representative will have authority to divide the property.

Information provided is of a general nature and does not act as a substitute for a personal discussion with an estate planning attorney. Your circumstances may create different legal opportunities.