Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: How Is My Personal Property Handled In A Trust?

Question:  How is my personal property handled in a trust?

Answer:  Personal property includes such items as jewelry, artwork, furniture, collections, and other household effects.  All these items can be distributed to the trust beneficiaries through a specific bequest (e.g., “I leave my diamond ring to my daughter”).  However, for most people, it would be an overwhelming task to try to inventory and choose a beneficiary for every single item you own.  Instead, it is common to use a separate Personal Property Memorandum that is attached to, and incorporated by reference into the trust.

The memo is typically a typed list of your wishes of bequests to family members or friends, which is signed and dated by you.   The memo can cover most personal items that you own, but typically include things that have financial value or strong sentimental value (particularly things that might lead to disagreements among family members).

The benefit of the memo is that it can be easily changed if you change your mind or wish to ditch it altogether.

Comment:  Any property that is not listed in the memo should be disposed of by the trustee.  Of course, if the beneficiaries can’t agree on the disposition, the trustee can sell the items and divide the proceeds of the sale.


As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts, and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation, and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.





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