Memorandum of Tangible Personal Property

One of the many things that you will need to consider when preparing your estate plan is how you would like your personal effects to be distributed. Almost everyone has an item of special meaning that they would like distributed to a certain person. Traditionally, these requests were included in the Last Will and Testament or the revocable trust documents. The disadvantage to this method was that whenever you wanted to make a change, whether it be changing the item or the recipient, or adding additional items, you had to sign a codicil to your Will or an amendment to your revocable trust. This would incur additional costs because the Codicil or the amendment had to be executed with the same formalities as the Will or revocable trust, which usually meant a trip to the attorney’s office.

Wisconsin simplified this process several years ago by allowing individuals to include, as a part of their estate plan, a Memorandum Regarding the Distribution of Tangible Personal Property. This memorandum describes the item(s) to be distributed in detail, as well as specifically lists the recipient(s). The memorandum must be signed and dated, and ideally, your signature should be witnessed or notarized. If changes to the distributions are desired later, only the Memorandum needs to be redrafted, which doesn’t require the assistance of an attorney. However, the Last Will and Testament or revocable trust documents must mention that such a Memorandum may exist in order for the Memorandum to be a binding part of your estate plan.

Lastly, the items listed on the Memorandum must be actual tangible items. Common examples of tangible personal property that can be disposed of using the memorandum are furniture, furnishings, rugs, pictures, books, silver, linen, china, glassware-crystal, objects of art, wearing apparel and jewelry.

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