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Who Gets What? The One Thing You Should Add to Your Estate Plan

chinese-cup-965011-mBy Carmine Perri

When it comes to litigation over one’s estate, very little, if anything, is more contentious than the dispute over a loved one’s personal property.

Oftentimes, it is not the monetary value but rather the sentimental value that fuels this contention.

When thinking about this issue, I refer you not to our General Statutes, our case-law, or even relevant treatise, but rather a song lyric:

Fine china stacked by the kitchen sink
Aunt Tammy’s in there claiming all the diamond rings
Uncle Bobby’s holding up the TV set
The only thing they are grieving over
Is what they ain’t gonna get
She’s only been in the ground a day or two
I’m glad Mama ain’t around to watch this family feud.

Great grand daddy’s shotgun started it all
She wasn’t even cold
Before they ripped it off the wall
Wanda’s fighting Angie over antique quilts
Nobody even waited for the reading of the will
If Daddy was here he’d beat us black and blue
I’m glad Mama ain’t around to watch this family feud.

(Pistol Annie’s “Family Feud”)

Sure, we often discuss the importance of having a last will and testament and the option of a living trust. But with all this planning, will it address your child’s desire for mom’s pots and pans or your other child’s desire for dad’s shotgun?

Well, a Precatory Memo will. It will state exactly who should get what.

When doing your estate plan, consider drafting a Precatory Memo which is a non-binding document that your Estate’s fiduciary can refer to when determining how to distribute your Estate. The Precatory Memo is intended to give direction as to which beneficiary receives which particular item.

Now, as to Aunt Tammy, Uncle Bobby, Wanda, and Angie, they are stealing.

Upon Mama’s passing, any of Mama’s personal property that she solely owned was owned by her Estate.  If Mama had a last will and testament in addition to a Precatory Memo, they would have apprised anyone, including law enforcement, of exactly what Mama wanted and why.

 

Related Post: Estate Planning and Disgruntled Heirs Ways to Avoid the Fight

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