Careful preparation, thought and discussion goes into developing a client's estate plan. Fair asset division is carefully considered, not burdening beneficiaries with poor tax planning, discussing pros and cons of excluding/including certain family members, discussing beneficiary designations on accounts that pass outside of your will; in other words, your elder law attorney will make sure everything is done properly to avoid any problems when the estate is settled. We include a Personal Property Memorandum to be completed by clients for personal effects distribution. For clients who just have a difficult time deciding who gets what, we can offer a meeting with a law office staff member who specializes in working through these issues with clients. Dividing personal property can be a very emotional process. If these distributions are left to the children to sort out, numerous problems often can and do arise.
We suggest identifying items that have a significant monetary value. Those items should be gifted as equitably as possible to the individuals that you are leaving them to. Then we have family heirlooms or mementos to distribute. In this area, we always consider items that have specific meaning to particular individuals. You need not list every item in your home but the monetary value should be considered as well as emotional attachments.
There are so many ways to handle your personal property but typically leaving it to family to sort out is a poor decision, even though it seems like the easiest at the time. If you truly do not want to deal with this aspect of your estate, your heirs can hire someone to help them divide property and/or use a software product called FairSplit that helps distribute items systematically while avoiding direct negotiations.
However you wish to deal with your physical belongings, we encourage you to deal with it when you create your estate plan. It will save your heirs emotional stress and harsh feelings at a very difficult time for them. Let us know if we can assist with this very important but overlooked piece of your estate plan puzzle.