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Addressing lesser possessions within estate planning

When most New Jersey residents are working on their estate plans, they focus on the manner in which sizeable assets will be distributed among their chosen heirs. Wills usually refer to real estate, vehicles, investments and other items of significant value. For many, however, outlining the inheritance of less valuable items is also an important consideration. With the proper degree of estate planning effort, it is possible to structure a clear and smooth transfer of these lesser items.

A common example lies in household goods that an individual wishes to leave to a friend or family member. Listing these lesser items within one's will is tedious and typically results in a final document that is cumbersome. On the other hand, leaving no guidance as to how such items are to be distributed can lead to confusion and contention among those left behind. A solution lies in drafting a separate document that can be used as an addendum to one's will, or simply included within the body of estate planning paperwork.

When creating an outline for the distribution of personal belongings, it is essential to be as clear as possible. The full legal name of the intended recipient should be given, as well as up-to-date contact information for that individual. Next, a list of the intended items should be made, with full descriptions of each piece of property. It is also helpful to give an idea of where the property is stored, especially if that location is outside of one's primary residence or is stored in a secured location.

By making a clear list of one's intentions for the inheritance of personal property, the individual who is tasked with carrying out those wishes will have a clear set of estate planning instructions to follow. Having this list in writing can also help offset any conflict between loved ones over who should be given which items. This can go a long way toward reducing stress during what can be a very difficult time for New Jersey families, and is a gift in and of itself.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, "Providing "Flexibility" for Your Estate Planning Details", July 27, 2015

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