Is it common to put certain household items in a will? 24 Answers as of October 24, 2013

I want to give certain family heirlooms to certain members of my family. Is it common to put that kind of stuff in a will or do people usually just let their wishes be known privately? My children don't like to talk about that stuff, but there are certain things I want to be passed down to each of them.

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Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
I always recommend putting these items in a will so there is no questions who these special items like heirlooms are to be distributed to.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 10/24/2013
Law Office of Thomas C. Phipps | Thomas C Phipps
In Missouri, the will can leave personal property by referring to an attached list. The list can be changed at any time. If no list is attached, the executor will determine how to distribute the property.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 10/16/2013
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Most people use a list to accompany a Will so they may more freely update it without having to visit the attorney. This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship. This response is only based upon the limited facts presented and is merely intended to assist you in determining if you should contact an attorney to provide you with legal advice.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/15/2013
James Law Group
James Law Group | Christine James
You should ABSOLUTELY put these items in your will or at least in a writing attached to your will and signed and dated by you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/15/2013
Law Office of Nadine A. Brown, P.A. | Nadine A. Brown, Esq.
A Last Will and Testament can be general or specific to include lists of items or as an addendum.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 10/15/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Yes, you can designate a specific item to a person, as long as the item is identifiable. However, you may want to consider an estate plan whereby a trust would be formed, and all of your assets specifically designated to whoever, and set forth in an exhibit list; sometime, it is wise to include pictures of the item in the exhibit list. Advise you seek a competent estate planning lawyer to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/15/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    If you have specific items you want to go to specific persons, yes, you should include that information in a will. That way there will be no dispute as to what your wishes are.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/15/2013
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    I think it is best to put it in a will, but many people don't put it in writing or do so only informally.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/15/2013
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
    Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C. | Donald Scher
    Yes, it is common to make specific gifts of specific items of property in a Will, regardless of value of each item. You can also direct your personal representative to distribute those items to specific people according to a separate document that you sign and date, and thus you are able to change your mind with regard to these gifts and not make a new Will each time. You do not need to discuss these items with your children, just make the gifts as you desire to make, and do not worry about what they want or don't want.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG
    LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG | Robert I. Long
    In California, these gifts are called specific bequests. Yes, it is common practice to put them in a will, and adds assurance your wishes will be followed. Be sure to indicate for gifts to residuary beneficiaries whether the gift counts toward their distributive share or is in addition to it. In close families with no conflict, it can be done informally, by simply leaving a list with the child in charge. But unless you are sure of it, the safer practice is to put it in the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    It is always best to get this kind of thing in writing, so there are no misunderstandings about your intent. Having it written down may help to avoid fights between the beneficiaries over who gets what.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    If it matters, put it in the Will. That way, it is enforceable. Telling people privately creates endless disputes among the family when you're gone. The very best thing to do is to give the heirlooms to the people who should have them. Do it now, do it at Thanksgiving dinner so everybody sees it happen. Then there will be no disputes.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    It is better to have specific bequests stated in your will. You may orally inform people of your wishes as well.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Colorado allows the use of a Personal Property Memorandum that is referred to in the Will. This is a much more flexible tool than listing specific items in the Will.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Estrada Law P.C. | Michele Ungvarsky
    Placing specific bequests in a will avoids any confusion or conflict after your death.
    Answer Applies to: New Mexico
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    Put these wishes in a will or trust.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You know longer need to put these items in a will. Rather, the will refers to a Letter of Instruction for Personal Property, This separate document, in your handwriting, identifies the individual and the item you wish this person to receive. You can add or delete from the list at any time. It does not require a witness of need to be notarized.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C.
    Gottlieb & Goren, P.C. | Aaron W. Goren
    You can do it by a list that you can change as often as you want, without having to update your Will. It is separate from your Will, but your Will must reference it.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    The purpose of a will Is to distribute assets of the testator as he/she wants them distributed. So yes you can place in your will whatever it is that you want passed down to whomever.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    This issue comes up a lot. There are a couple of options. If the items are valuable, you may want to include them in your will. If they are primarily emotionally valuable, you can make a list of who gets what and keep that with your will and other valuable papers. Or you can attach a note on the back/bottom/inside of the item with directions as to who should inherit it.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    Modern Wills make provision for attachment of a "writing" that becomes a part of the Will. It is intended for just the purpose you describe. In addition, if you change your mind you do not need to change the entire Will. You need only make a new "writing" and attach it to your Will. State laws will differ so make sure you understand what your state requires for a valid "written attachment".
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    In Missouri you can state in the will that you have prepared a list of items that you want to pass to certain people mentioned in the list. The language is usually as follows in the will: if a list prepared, dated and signed by me prior to my death is found at my death which disposes of part or all of my tangible personal property, including all my jewelry, books, pictures, clothing, all articles of household or personal use and adornment, household furniture and effects, and automobiles which I may own at my death, those persons designated in such list shall be entitled to receive the property so listed. Doing it this way allows you to change your mind without having to do a codicil to the will.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 10/14/2013
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    One solution is to gift those items while you are still living. If they are items of great financial or sentimental value, distribute them in your will, to avoid misunderstandings down the road.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 10/14/2013
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