AZ Estate Planning News

AZ Estate Planning News

Knollmiller and Arenofsky Trust and Estate Planning

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Will My Heirs Have Hurt Feelings Over My Personal Items? Short Answer: Probably

English: Antiques being sold on Colaba Causeway

“The biggest estate-planning mistake is that people think it’s only about the money,” said Marlene Stum, a professor at the University of Minnesota and author of the “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” workbook and website. “When it comes to their personal possessions, they say, ‘It’s just stuff.’ ”

In my opinion, the personal items in a home is often the biggest source of unhappiness among families when a loved one dies.   Without taking the time on how to resolve the distribution of personal possessions, you can unwittingly leave a legacy of rancor and resentment.

Baby boomers surveyed by Allianz Life Insurance Company selected personal possessions six times more often than financial inheritance as important in legacy planning.

Okay, where do we start?  How about asking your heirs what items mean something to them?   Then keep a list and resolve any overlapping interests.

Next, on a sheet of paper, titled Personal Property Distributions, and upon completion attached to the back of your Will, list who gets what and sign, date and number the sheet(s) 0f paper.  While writing the names on the pieces themselves seems like a great idea, it is unlikely supported in the law if there is  a dispute on who gets which items.

If you have a lot of sentimental items, and you do not want to list who receives them, perhaps a third party executor or successor trustee that will distribute the personal items will work better since their decisions will not be treated as biased or personal.
Starting the process early leaves time to work out ground rules and deal with different assumptions and opinions.  And it can be a chance to see the pleasure your treasures can bring to their new owners if you choose to give them the items you do not need now.
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