Much, though not all, of estate planning, involves determining how you wish for your assets to be distributed upon passing away. While many people first think of assets with large financial value, such as real estate and investment accounts, there are other assets that can be equally, if not even more, important to include in your estate plan. Consider those items that may not have much monetary value, but may have great sentimental value. Whether it be a family heirloom, family photographs, or some other treasured item, you will most likely want the peace of mind that can come with dictating where such sentimental items should pass after you die.
Planning for Assets of Sentimental Value
While assets high in monetary value may become the basis for family squabbles after a loved one passes away, so too can personal items that carry significant sentimental value prove to be bones of contention. In the wake of losing a loved one, emotions can easily run high. Many may choose to focus their feelings in less than productive ways. Conflict can break out over the smallest of things. When it comes to treasured items of the deceased, loved ones can quickly want and feel entitled to keeping such treasures in memory of the loved one who has been lost. Spare your family and loved ones the stress of fighting over such items, not to mention the cost of legal fees and court costs, by clearly providing for your sentimental treasures in your estate plan.
One of the best ways to provide for the distribution of your personal property is through the use of a personal property memorandum. In such a memorandum, you can outline your personal property and who you wish to receive said property after you die. You can and should still provide for the distribution of some of your personal property in your will or trust documents. The memorandum will act more as an addendum to your other official estate planning documents. To help ensure that your personal property memorandum is legally binding, you should specifically reference it in your will. You should also be sure that it is in compliance with any other requirements set forth by state law.
One of the many benefits of a personal property memorandum is that you will not need to formally amend your will to make changes to the memorandum. This gives you more flexibility in adding or amending your list of personal property and your wishes for distribution. While it is still advisable to include items of significant monetary value in your will and trust documents, a personal property memorandum can be extremely valuable when it comes to the protection and distribution of your property that is high in sentimental value. You can even provide explanations for your decisions of who is to receive what is your personal property value. Such explanations can be highly instructive to your loved ones and go a long way to avoiding any potential disputes or feelings of ill will.
New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney
Posted in: Estate Planning