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Estate Planning Considerations For Your Tangible Personal Property

by Phil Levin, Esq. on May 1st, 2021
Estate Planning Considerations

Most of our clients own tangible personal p
roperty which has both financial and sentimental value. Such property usually included jewelry, household furnishings, vehicles, artwork, coin and stamp collections, wine, guns, and even your pets.

Upon the passing of a client, the executor often encounters significant challenges regarding the distribution of property owned by the decedent.

Strategies For Distribution

Fortunately, during the estate planning process, there are strategies to ensure that property is distributed to who you want, when you want, and in a manner which can avoid family fallouts. However, it is vitally important to your intentions with a competent estate planning attorney to make sure appropriate distribution provisions are contained in your estate plan which can ensure a smooth transition of your tangible personal property.

While planning for the distribution of tangible property can present challenges for individuals, dedicating time to think through the ultimate distribution of your property can go a long way to maintain harmony within your family in the event of your passing.

Distribution of tangible property among surviving family members, including a surviving spouse, along with children and step-children, can result in significant emotional protracted disputes which often cannot be resolved without mediation or litigation. Multi-married clients, including second and third marriages, where there are children from previous marriages, make it especially important to consider how to bequest tangible property to surviving family members.

Steps You Can Take

Some of the steps which you can take to minimize family fallouts over the distribution of personal property include providing a Benedictine with a right of first refusal and lottery disposition. The goal is to make your intentions and wishes abundantly clear through property drafted estate planning legal documents to avoid dispute resolution mechanisms in the future when you are not alive.

Some of the practical questions we often discuss with our clients who are concerned about maintaining family harmony and reducing the risk of a family dispute over the distribution of their personal property upon their passing include:

– Does the right for a beneficiary to take an item apply to a single item or to a collection as an item?

– Might one or more beneficiaries assert that he or she had legal ownership in the property during the client’s lifetime?

– Was an item on loan or gifted during the client’s lifetime?

– Was the property to be distributed owned by a family business, and not directly by the client?

– Was title to a specific item of property transferred to a trust during the life of the client?

– Is the disposition of tangible personal property included in a valid prenuptial agreement?

At The Levin Law Firm, we often help our clients to effectively address the future disposition of their valuable personal property. We also are sensitive to the income and transfer tax implications, along with the practical considerations when planning for the disposition of personal property.

We also discuss with our clients the importance of creating and maintaining adequate records regarding the ownership and intended distribution of their tangible personal property, which often includes a professional home inventory.

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