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One of the more challenging aspects of estate planning is figuring out who gets all your stuff.  The antique coffee table that used to belong to your father, your rare coin collection, your grandmother’s engagement ring, these items have value and, more importantly, they have value to you.  You want to make sure they go to someone who will value and appreciate them, not sold for pennies on the dollar at an estate sale.  While it is possible to distribute these tangible items through your Will, there’s a better solution.

A Personal Property Disposition List – when written in conjunction with your Will – offers several advantages over listing each item in your Will.  First: what do I mean by “Personal Property Disposition List?”  A PPDL is a written document, separate from your Will but referenced in it, that disposes of specific items of your personal property.  It can exist before your Will is drafted, executed concurrently or created in its entirety afterward.  And therein lies some of the benefit: listing and describing many of your assets can be tedious and time-consuming.  This document allows you to execute your Will and continue the process of listing beneficiaries at a later date.  So if deciding who gets grandma’s china is holding up your Will, the Personal Property Disposition List is a great solution.

Similarly, it allows for edits, revisions, additions and deletions without full re-execution of your Will.  Although a Will only requires your signature and two witnesses, good practice requires a notary signature as well.  The PPDL is updated every time you change it, so there’s no need to assemble two witnesses and a notary every time you make a change.  It also saves money in that each change doesn’t require a call to your lawyer to update your Will.

A few tips for your PPDL: first, Virginia Code requires that both items and recipients must be described with “reasonable certainty.”  If you have three brothers, leaving your Mickey Mantle rookie card “to my brother” isn’t going to cut it.  Similarly, you’ll want to avoid language like this: “My coffee table to John Smith.  My other coffee table to Jane Smith.”  Who gets which one?  Also, describe the item based on its physical attributes.  “My stone and glass coffee table” is a more useful description to your executor than “the coffee table my mother gave me for my birthday.”  Include as much identifying information as possible and consider adding photographs to avoid confusion.

Second, keep this document with your Will.  It should be easily accessible so your Executor can locate it quickly.  All the clarification in the world doesn’t help you if your Executor can’t find your list.

For questions about your Personal Property Disposition List or to begin setting up your own, email Asurest today to set up an appointment


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Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.