“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.