Sharing stories are a non-legal way to pass on family history, but there is also a legal way, which is called a personal property memorandum.
A personal property memorandum is a document that allows you to give your touchable movable property (clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc.) to specific individuals. You can fill out and edit this memorandum as much as you want and whenever you want, even years after you signed your will. You do not even need an attorney to edit the memorandum or a notary to sign it, unlike your other legal documents. However, you do have to sign and date the memorandum for it to be legally valid. This is an important part of your estate plan to give your personal representative what they need to administer your estate.
The great benefit to the memorandum is again, you can edit it whenever and however you want. This is vital because you have more personal property than probably anything else and this property changes more than probably anything else. You should not rely on oral directions to pass on these possessions, as this is not binding and can lead to confusion and family in-fighting. You can also write up a description and the history of these possessions in a separate document acting as a companion document to the memorandum.
You cannot use this memorandum to pass on all kinds of property. Again, it has to be touchable and movable, and here are some examples:
· Photographs and portraits
· Important certificates (birth, marriage, death, citizenship/naturalization)
· Collections of dolls, figurines, etc.
· Other family heirlooms
Items that should not be included on your personal property memorandum are:
· property with a title (like a car);
· real estate; and
· intangibles, such as stock certificates, royalties, or bank accounts.
These assets can only be passed on using a trust or a will. If you are not sure if an asset can be listed on a memorandum, talk with your estate planning attorney for direction.
Of course, you do not have to wait until after you pass away to pass on this kind of property. You can pass on this property while you are alive. While you pass it on, you can share the stories behind your possessions, why it is important to you, and why you want to pass it on to that individual.
If you decide to pass on your personal possessions now while alive or after you pass away, the stories you can pass along are possibly just as important. Contact The Rains Law Firm or schedule a complimentary initial meeting to discuss how to pass on your personal possessions.