Estate planning is an extremely broad concept that not only affects your financial matters, but your personal life as well. One aspect in which people often overlook in their estate planning is what happens to the smaller, more personal items.
Wills often state a provision such as “My Personal Representative (or Executor) shall distribute my tangible personal property equally among my children.” Although the Testator has the right intent, such a provision may lead to conflicts within a family, as certain tangible personal items have different sentimental and sometimes monetary values to each child.
While it is certainly possible that all the beneficiaries amicably divide a parent’s personal items equally, it is not realistic to rely on them to divide the items without any disagreement.
Florida is a state which allows for people to plan for this by using a Personal Property Memorandum (PPM). A PPM is a separate writing in which you can itemize and dispose of personal property as you desire, even after the creation of your will. In order for a PPM to be valid the following requirements must be satisfied: 1) Your Will must specifically reference the fact that you are disposing of tangible personal items by a separate list; 2) You must sign and date the PPM (it does not need to be witnessed); and 3) You must clearly describe the personal property and beneficiary for each item you wish to distribute in the PPM. It is recommended that you also attach pictures to avoid confusion.
A PPM is an imperative estate planning tool because it can be extremely effective in ensuring that your dispositive intentions are in alignment with the actual distributions of your personal property upon your death. Additionally, it can avoid confrontation over personal items between family members during a highly emotional time period.