Use of Separate Writing for Disposition of Tangible Personal Property

In this article we explain crucial points to keep in mind as you prepare a separate writing to dispose of certain items of tangible personal property. By carefully preparing a crystal clear and unambiguous writing detailing your intentions will only help your representatives be better suited to carry them out at the appropriate time.

WHAT CAN GO IN THE WRITING?:

Most items of tangible personal property owned by you may be included in this writing. Tangible personal property includes, but is not limited to:

  • Household goods
  • Furniture
  • Furnishings
  • Clothing
  • Boats
  • Automobiles
  • Books
  • Objects of art
  • Club membership
  • Articles of personal or household use or adornment.

ITEMS YOU CANNOT INCLUDE IN THE WRITING:

On the contrary, keep in mind this writing cannot be used for the following:

  • To dispose of real property
  • Property used in trade or business
  • Money or books, paper or documents whose chief value is as evidence of intangible property rights such as bank books, stock certificates, promissory notes, insurance policies, and like.

Also, of importance, we request that you do not use the separate writing to dispose of a coin collection, since the law regarding this has not been finalized.

PREPARING YOUR WRITING:

The separate writing may be prepared either in your own handwriting or by typewriter or word-processor. For your convenience, we have included a copy of the Florida Statute explaining separate writings below.

EXCERPT FROM FLORIDA STATUTES:

732.515 Separate Writing Identifying Devises of Tangible Property. A Will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of  items  of  tangible  personal  property  not  otherwise specifically disposed of by the Will, other than money and property used in trade or business. To be admissible under this section of intended disposition, the writing must be signed by the testator and must describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty. The writing may be referred to as one in the existence at the time of the testator’s death. It may be prepared before or after the execution of the Will. It may be altered by the testator after its preparation. It may be a writing that has no significance apart from its effect upon the disposition made by the Will.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS:

We cannot stress the importance of being as specific as possible in describing the items of property and identifying its intended beneficiary. The more detailed the writing the more it will increase the chances this process with go smooth for the person you want to receive your personal property. This may go without saying, but we wouldn’t mention this if we didn’t see this time and time again. Remember to date and sign the writing.

CHANGES HAPPEN:

You can make a change on the separate writing at any time. Just keep in mind that it’s important that each change is initialed by you. For example, if you would like for an item to go to another person if your first beneficiary is deceased, you should indicate this on the form by inserting the secondary beneficiary’s name. If you don’t want an item to go to a named person, you should insert this specific language after you have named the first beneficiary “if living and if not, disposed of as the balance of my tangible personal property in my Will”.

Below is an example of this: To my son, JOHN DOE, if living, and if not, then to his wife,JANE DOE; or, to JOHN DOE, if living and if not, to be disposed of as the balance of my tangible personal property as set forth in my Will.

REMOVING AN ITEM:

There may be cases where you no longer have an item contained in your original writing.  For example, you may have sold an item or gave it away. Just be sure to indicate this on the separate writing in detail so the item will not be treated as missing later.

SAFEKEEPING YOUR WRITING:

We encourage you to keep the separate writing safe as though it were your Will. As a matter of fact, it should be kept with the Will, since the assets enumerated in the separate writing will be administered as though they were actually set forth in the Will.

NOT SURE WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

As always, it may be wise to consult with an Estate Planning attorney who can guide you through this process and assure your writing is not “paper thin” when reviewed by authorities.     The Nici Law Firm specializes in Estate Planning and has helped countless clients avoid issues with tangible property disputes by composing a separate writing for Disposition of Tangible Personal Property that is rock solid. If you have any question you can contact Nici Law Firm at (239)449-6150.