As 70+ Million baby boomers head into their later years and downsize or pass how do they divvy up their “stuff” in this process? One way is to speak with your family while you are alive and ask if any of them have a desire for a particular item. Family meetings where each person expresses their desire for an item and the reason they desire it can clear the air and avoid disagreements upon the owner’s demise. If more than one loved on wants the same item you could help determine who wants it more or make your determination while you are alive. With the help of a estate planning attorney, you could gift that item now or include its designation in your Will or Trust.
If you are not comfortable holding a family meeting or didn’t get around to it the designations can be made in your Will or Trust in several ways. The first is that you can leave a list of what are called ‘specific bequests’. This is the way in which you can designate a specific item (or some of the money) to an individual recipient. Those specific bequests are distributed before any other gifts of your Will or Trust. If you don’t want to list each item and recipient in your Will or Trust you can state that you will leave a letter with the designations to be found with your Will or Trust and that those items be distributed to those you have designated before any other distributions. Your estate planning attorney can make sure that the proper language to accomplish this form of specific bequest is included in your estate planning documents.
Sell Your Stuff
Second, you could designate that all of the items you leave behind to be sold and the proceeds distributed to your beneficiaries. The beneficiaries can take items (once they have been appraised) instead of the equivalent cash distribution or can buy them directly from your estate.
Third, you could designate that a family meeting be held after you pass, or your executor or successor trustee could hold such a meeting, and the items of personal property (after appraisal) could be distributed to those who want them. If an agreement cannot be reached the representative of your estate could ‘sell’ the item to the highest bidder.
However, you choose to address the divvying up of your “stuff” and whether you engage in the task before you pass or have your estate representative handle it after your death remember the choice is yours and it’s still your “stuff”. You will not make everyone happy but if you feel strongly about what happens to your “stuff” make sure you have a plan.
Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney About Wills & Trusts
Consult an estate planning attorney at Moseman Law Office for assistance in creating the plan that works best for you and properly committing it to writing.