The Tangible Personal Property List- What happens to your “stuff” after you die

Florida allows the use of a ‘memorandum’ or ‘separate writing’ to leave ‘tangible personal property’ under a will.

But, there are a couple of wrinkles. First, the will must refer to a written statement or list of property; most lawyer drafted wills in Florida will include this statement as a matter of course. Second, the list must deal only with tangible personal property; this would not include any real property, such as land, or any ‘intangible’ personal property, which is property that ownership is represented by paper; such as bank accounts, CD’s, Insurance, or stocks and bonds. It may not even include such things as motor vehicles, cars, trucks, mobile homes and boats where ownership is proven by a certificate of title.

It does, however, include what most people would call “stuff”. Stuff that you can pick up and hold, stuff that you can point to; including furniture, antiques, firearms, stamps, collectibles, jewelry, pots, pans, and dishes. In other words, the stuff that you own other than land, investments and things that you drive or float.

The list needs to signed at the end by you; it should be dated, and it should list the property and state who the property should go to. Give some thought to how the property is listed and how you list the names of the people; you should do it in such a way as to make clear what item goes to who. In other words, don’t say “my good china goes to my favorite daughter” no one is going to know what your good china was and you will have a fight over who was your favorite daughter. Instead, say “the white china with the red roses goes to my daughter Mary Smith”.

This memorandum or list should be signed by you; it does not need to be witnessed; but it should be dated; and it should be kept in the same place as the will. And it can be done either before or after the will; and if you change your mind, or give away property or get new property, you can do a new list; just sign it and date it.

If you have questions about a personal property memorandum in or around The Villages, Florida, feel free to contact my office about how the memorandum works with a will and what happens in probate.

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