Engaging in estate planning is the best way to ensure that your assets pass to your intended beneficiaries after your death. The more detailed and specific you are drafting your will, the better the chances your wishes will be followed. However, if you were to draw up your will today, listing all your personal possession and the names of the recipients you wish to receive that property, odds are that that information will look different twenty years or more down the road when you actually pass away. A better solution would be to create a personal property memorandum, also known as a separate writing, to attach to your will.
A personal property memorandum is a legal document, separate from your will, in which you may list all your personal possessions and the reasons or sentiment behind your decision to leave them to one beneficiary over another, hopefully avoiding any fights over who gets what. Moreover, you can update and change your personal property memorandum as often as you wish throughout your lifetime without requiring the services of an attorney or the legal processes involved with creating a formal codicil or amendment to your will. Instead, you can simply draft an updated memorandum to attach to your will and dispose of any previous versions. However, it is recommended that you sign and date each new version of the memorandum and consider getting it notarized to ensure authenticity and avoid any potential legal challenges in the future.
Most U.S. states recognize personal property memorandums and separate writings either as legally binding documents when they are specifically referred to in a decedent’s will or as a guideline for executors to follow when closing an estate. Unlike your will, which should address your intangible assets, such as real estate, stocks, bonds and financial accounts, the personal memorandum should only include the tangible personal property you own, such as jewelry, furniture, china, art and collectibles. You may even choose to include less-valuable items, such as a favorite sweater, a pocketknife, cologne or photos with sentimental value. Make sure that you give your personal property memorandum to your estate-planning advisors and keep a copy for yourself to review and update as your life circumstances change.
About the Author: Brendan T. Hayes is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. He can be reached in the firm’s Boca Raton, Fla., office at (561) 361-2001 or via email at
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Brendan T. Hayes is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
Posted December 23, 2021