The late comedian¬†Ms. Joan Rivers collected¬ Faberge eggs¬†and a recent auction of her collection and other antiques¬ are expected by experts¬†to be quite profitable to her estate. Very few people¬†own true antiques or collections that would bring much value at¬†auction, but most people¬†have keepsakes of considerable personal meaning. ¬†These¬†include¬†items like¬†family Bibles, lockets with a photograph, a porcelain figure, a chest of drawers, or a¬†grandmother’s engagement ring. ¬†Clients frequently wonder¬†what is the best way to leave¬†these beloved valuables to the family and friends who¬†will appreciate them most.
The phrase¬†“tangible personal property” is the legal description¬†for all of the items¬†in your home, including keepsakes. ¬†In Virginia, a properly drafted will is permitted to¬†include reference to a signed, separate statement¬†of tangible personal property for distribution. ¬†This statement lists¬†items and who they should be given to, for¬†example, “Corn Husk Doll to Susie Doe”. ¬†In this example, the executor must¬†distribute the doll to Susie. ¬†The statement doesn’t require a notary (just a signature) and doesn’t require an amendment to your will. ¬†It’s a wonderful and convenient way to ensure the¬†cherished keepsakes get to whom you intend.
A few words of caution though. ¬†Care must be taken to describe the item. ¬†This should seem obvious, but remember if you’ve died¬†you can’t help clarify what you meant. ¬†A reference to “oak table” is no help when there are three oak tables in the home. ¬†It’s also important¬†to destroy any old statement when you make a new one. ¬†Leaving a list with crossed out items, scribbled in new names, initials, etc. are fodder for acrimony and litigation.
If you have a will, but don’t know if it permits this type of gifting of your keepsakes through a statement or if you don’t have a plan at all¬ contact us¬†today. ¬†We’ll make sure your promises made are promises kept.