When we think of bequests in a will, we may think of eye-catching headlines about an individual who leaves $10 million to a favorite cousin – or to their cat. But bequests can also cover any property, even small items of little intrinsic value. In fact, including personal property in your estate plan is the best way to make sure your belongings are distributed to the right loved one after your death.
Methods of Distributing Personal Property
- Written statement.
When making decisions about allocating personal property, a testator may decide to leave a memo or letter to their executor spelling out specific gifts.
- “Be referred to in the Will
- Be in the handwriting of the testator or be signed by the testator; and
- Describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty.”
During his or her lifetime, a testator may dispose of property or decide to gift it to different beneficiary. The testator’s written statement can be changed as often as the testator wants, provided it still meets Minnesota requirements.
- Last Will and Testament
Some people include provisions in their Will leaving their property to their spouse, but also include bequests. One way to do this is to include a detailed list of possessions and beneficiaries. Another way is to direct that property be distributed at the executor’s discretion or that it be sold and the money divided equally between beneficiaries. Inform your attorney of any potential conflicts or disputes that may arise between family members and other heirs.
Bequests, whether included in the Will or in a separate document, should include enough detail that the property can be identified. For example, if the gift is jewelry, the owner might include the name of the designer, color, weight, and so on. Also, describe the heirs clearly and completely. A vague statement leaving your boat to Uncle Fred could be problematic if there’s more than one “Fred” in your family.
Even personal property with more sentimental value than actual value should be distributed in an orderly way and according to your wishes. To schedule an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys, contact us at 612.888.1000 or send an email to email@example.com. Our main office is in Minneapolis, but we serve other communities like Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.