Tangible Personal Property -Who Gets All My Stuff?

Estate planning attorneys and their clients spend a great deal of time drafting a plan that divides the large assets of an estate equally and equitably among their children, grandchildren, or other beneficiaries. However, they sometimes give far less thought to the other stuff, including tangible personal property that may have more sentimental value than monetary value. Oftentimes, it is the decisions about those sentimental items that can cause the most problems in a family upon the death of a loved one.

Arkansas has a statute that allows a written statement, signed and dated, designating how certain items of tangible personal property shall be distributed. This statement allows people to change the division of tangible personal property without having to amend their entire will or trust.

It is a good idea to ask your children or other beneficiaries which of your personal property items they would like to receive upon your death. It is helpful to know which child loves your paintings and which child loves your china. You can equalize values at death with other assets from the estate to ensure fairness if that is your intention. Families can use an appraiser to determine values of personal property items to ensure fairness, especially if one child is receiving a Rembrandt painting and one child is receiving grandma’s famous casserole dish.

Oftentimes a family will draw lots or take turns in deciding what personal property items they want. This allows each family member to feel they got their fair share.

An extreme approach may be taken if a family cannot decide how to divide the personal property items. This approach is for the executor or trustee to sell everything and divide the proceeds from the sale among the beneficiaries in the will or trust.

As with all estate planning, it is best to speak to a trusted estate planning attorney or adviser to devise a plan that works best for your family and your beneficiaries. A properly drafted plan can reduce problems or fighting within the family upon your death.

Tiffany Tucker is an associate attorney at Farrar & Williams, PLLC and can be contacted at 501-525-4401 or by email at tiffany@farrarwilliams.com.

By: Staff Writer