Estate planning should include personal property

On behalf of Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, P.C. posted in Estate Planning on Feb 25, 2016.

When most Pennsylvania residents remember a loved one, it is the small details that define those memories. Afternoons spent reading in an old rocking chair, learning to mix cake batter in a bowl that has been handed down for generations … these are the things that people remember. When a loved one passes away, it is often these small items of seemingly little value that create the most intense family conflicts. It is important to address items of personal property during estate planning efforts, to help surviving family members avoid contention after their loss.

There are a number of different approaches that can be taken, and each family will have to determine which offers the best fit for their needs. In some cases, it is possible to simply ask family members which items they would most like to have and compile a list. It can be helpful to give all parties a copy of the final list, so that everyone knows what to expect. 

In some instances, however, there will be disagreement concerning who should get what. In those cases, it might make more sense to simply outline a system through which loved ones can gather and take turns selecting items when the time comes. This forces family members to prioritize the items that mean the most to them and is a fair way to handle the matter. 

No matter what estate planning approach is chosen, it is important to place the plan into writing and to make sure that everyone involved understands what to expect when the time comes to distribute personal property. This can make it far easier for Pennsylvania loved ones to move through a difficult time and avoid disputes while they are grieving. In many ways, that is the best gift that an individual can leave to loved ones.

Source: The Huffington Post, “3 Simple Tips For Planning Your Estate“, Erris Langer Klapper, Feb. 11, 2016