How Do You Leave Material Possessions to Your Loved Ones?

naperville estate planning lawyerThe majority of people who plan their estates provide for how their monetary assets and real estate will be distributed. Bank accounts, stocks, houses, and businesses are the first things people think of when they begin the estate planning process. Material possessions, however, are often forgotten about. The importance of including material possessions in your estate plan is not to be underestimated – family conflicts over personal belongings during estate distribution are quite common. You have the opportunity to reduce the risk of conflict among your loved ones by including your material possessions in your estate planning documents. 

Is Telling My Loved Ones Who Should Have Certain Possessions Enough? 

No. The only way to make sure your wishes regarding your material possessions are honored is to include them in your estate planning documents. Verbal testamentary promises are unenforceable. Even if you write down a list of your belongings and who should have them, or write the names of your loved ones on the belongings themselves, this strategy will not hold up in court unless this information is contained in your will or trust documents. In some cases, your personal property may be distributed through the Illinois intestacy statute – which could result in family heirlooms being sold off so the proceeds can be split evenly. 

 It is quite a common situation for a person to simply tell their loved ones who should take certain belongings after their death. A person may tell her son that he should have a particular painting, and her sister that she should have their mother’s jewelry. Unfortunately, this type of situation all too often leads to litigation between family members during estate distribution. Family feuds over an item are especially likely if the item in question is very valuable. If the will or trust documents do not specify who gets what, the intended recipient may have no legal recourse if someone else walks off with an heirloom. 

Contact Us for Help Today

A qualified attorney will ask you to take an inventory of your material possessions and who you would like to leave them to. Do not worry – you will not have to list every single thing you own. If there are specific possessions you want to go to a particular loved one, your attorney will make sure that information is included in your estate plan. It is very important that individual possessions are described very clearly so that there is no confusion during distribution. Your attorney can also help you divide material possessions into categories, for example, “baseball memorabilia” or “antique furniture,” and decide how they will be distributed. Your attorney will know how to incorporate this inventory into your estate plan. 

Contact the experienced Naperville estate planning attorneys of the Gierach Law Firm today, so that we can help you find peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out. Call us at 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation. 

Sources: 

Illinois Intestacy Statute 

Washington Post

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