Gifting Personal Tangible Property: Ensuring the Right People Get the Right Stuff

People often wonder how to gift specific items they own, typically stuff inside their house.  Legally, this “stuff” is called personal tangible personal property, which is any movable property.  Think of it as anything someone has in their house, including their garage and even in a bank deposit box if they still have one (More on that soon! Stay tuned.)

With these types of tangible gifts, most clients change their minds about who receives what many times.  Also, personal tangible property that someone owned in 1984 may not still be owned by them when they die.

Because of this, most of our clients prefer to handle these types of gifts through what is called a personal property memorandum that is tied to their will.

This memorandum allows the Testator (or will maker) to gift tangible personal property by writing who gets what items.  It can be kept up-to-date by revoking or destroying the memorandum, and making a new one.

A contingent provision in the will makes gifts all personal tangible property in the case a memorandum is never completed.

On the other hand, when gifts of tangible personal property are written into the will, making changes will require amending or republishing the will for the changes in those gifts to be invalid. Simply making a line through provisions or writing notes on the margin will not invalidate any provisions in will.

Gifting “stuff” doesn’t have to be complicated. The use of a personal property memorandum is meant to simplify this process by allowing clients to control how they want their tangible personally property distributed without an attorney’s assistance. It is in the best interest of all the people involved to ensure these items are outlined clearly and with intentionality.

Are you already downsizing and getting rid of stuff? What about lifetime gifting of tangible personal property? Lifetime gifting is another great way to gift tangible personal property during life and not after death.  This is the gifting method that best avoids conflict, and the donor gets the joy of seeing the beneficiary enjoy their gift. More on this soon too! Stay tuned.

Make it a great day!


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