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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Are You Planning for Tangible Property in Your Estate Plan?

Did you know that there are three types of property that can transfer through a will? These include: real property (also called real estate), intangible personal property (like cash, bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc), and tangible personal property. Tangible, meaning “perceptible by touch,” refers to all the stuff we own, for example, jewelry, vehicles, clothing, furniture, art, dishes, electronics, musical instruments, and more.

Many people have specific wishes regarding how their tangible personal property will be distributed among beneficiaries. In some states, an itemized list will be included as specific bequests in the will. In most states, the law allows an individual to itemize some or all of their tangible personal property in a separate written list or statement, specifying who receives which item. The list must be signed and dated by the testator, but it does not need to be witnessed or notarized like a will. There is also no requirement that the list be created contemporaneously to the will, which allows for the testator to change the list as often as he or she wishes. The itemized list should be kept with the original will, as it will only be relied upon if the executor has knowledge of its existence at the time that the will is being probated.

In some circumstances, it may not be clear whether an item is tangible or not. For example, coin collections can fall into this gray area. Cash is not tangible, despite the fact that you can feel it. It is fungible and, therefore, it cannot be distributed through a tangible property list. A coin collection featuring rare or unusual coins, however, could be considered tangible property. If you encounter property that could be interpreted as tangible or intangible, it is important to consult with an attorney in your estate planning so that it can be properly distributed.

Give our office a call today. We can help you determine what is, and what is not, tangible personal property, and we can help ensure that all of your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries as you wish.

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