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Why your personal property matters in your estate plan

Most people focus heavily on their retirement accounts, investment funds, life insurance policies and real property when planning their estate, paying little attention to personal property such as family heirlooms, jewelry, art and collections.

However, personal property in many cases can be just as valuable -- sentimentally speaking -- so they should be included in your estate plan as well. In fact, planning for the distribution of personal property can help to prevent family conflict and it can help the estate administration process go much smoother.

If there are no instructions for how a person would like his or her personal property distributed, then the personal representative will do their best to divide it as they believe the decedent would have wanted. But as you can imagine, this can be a difficult and conflict-inducing process.

How to bequest personal property

The good news is that you can decide how your want your personal property passed down on your own, and you have the ability to change your mind whenever you see fit.

Typically, people will detail how they want their personal property distributed in a separate document that is appended to their will. The document does not have to be formal and it can be changed at any time, so long as the person signs and dates it.

If you still aren’t sure whether you need to take the time to write down how your want your personal property to be distributed, take a few seconds to look around your home. Chances are that there are many things that have great sentimental value to members of your family or your friends. You may even have art, antiques or collections that are worth some money.

If this is the case, then creating a plan for these items is well worth your time and more.

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