Personal Property

Personal Property

Because people acquire and dispose of personal property so often, it is not advisable to list a lot of small items in your will. Otherwise, when you sell or replace one of them, you may need to rewrite your will.

One solution is to describe the type of item you wish to give.

Example: Instead of saying, "I leave my 1998 Ford to my sister," state, "I leave any automobile I own at the time of my death to my sister."

Of course, if you do mean to give a specific item, you should describe it.

Example: Rather than "I leave my diamond ring to Joan," you should say, "I leave to Joan the one-half carat diamond ring that I inherited from my grandmother," because you might own more than one diamond ring at the time of your death.

Handwritten List of Personal Property

In some states, you are allowed to leave a handwritten list of personal items you wish to go to certain people that would be legally binding.

A handwritten note is not an option in most states. If you feel your family will honor your wishes, you can write out a list of personal items you want to go to certain people, but you must realize that there is no legal requirement for your list to be followed.

  • What is a Will?
    A last will is a document that you create to direct the management and distribution of your property and provide for the care of your minor children after your death. The importance of a last will cannot be overstated. A last will is arguably the most important legal document that the average...
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  • Leaving Property to Heirs in a Will
    A typical last will contains two types of gifts: specific and general. Specific gifts, which leave a particular object or dollar amount to a particular person, are optional, but are generally the first items of property that are distributed from a last will. A specific gift might read: "I leave to...
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  • Last Wills and Probate Court
    Probate is the legal process through which the court decides how your property will be divided. If you have a last will, the court will review that document to determine your wishes and will follow those wishes unless the last will is successfully contested by your heirs. If you do not have a last...
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  • Joint Tenancy
    Property that is owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship does not pass under a will. If a will gives property to one person but it is already in a joint account with another person, the will is usually ignored and the joint owner of the account gets the property. The property in the...
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  • Overruling Your Will
    If all property is in joint ownership or if all property is distributed through a will, things are simple. But when some property passes by each method, a person's plans may not be fulfilled. Example 1: Bill's will leaves all his property to his sister, Mary. Bill dies owning a house jointly with...
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  • Tenancy in Common
    Property that is owned by more than one person but not owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship or in tenancy by the entireties is often owned in a tenancy in common. This means that each person owns part of the property (such as one half or one third), and upon each person's death, the...
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