Orange County California

Trust Attorneys


During the administration of your loved one’s estate, you may be responsible for distributing their tangible personal property. Typically, this property is addressed under a specific clause within your loved one’s will or trust. The decedent likely left this property to a specific individual, group of individuals, organization, or charity. It is important to understand which items in the estate fall under this provision. Identifying what is tangible and what is not helps the executor, administrator, or trustee to properly administer the estate. Don’t face this sometimes daunting challenge alone.

6 Tips for Distinguishing Tangible Personal Property During Estate Administration

An attorney can help you define the type of property you are dealing with and guide you on how to follow or create an estate plan with clear terms. The following are six tips to help determine which items in your loved one’s estate constitute tangible personal property:

  1. Tangible personal property has a physical presence, in other words, it is tactile.
  2. If the item in question is an animal, such as a pet or livestock, it may be considered personal property if the animal was owned by the decedent in their individual name.
  3. Tangible personal property typically does not include cash.
  4. Tangible personal property typically does not include stocks held in certificate form.
  5. If cash or stock certificates are kept inside a tangible object such as a safe or a desk drawer, the cash or stock certificates may be included if the tangible object and its contents are gifted to a specific individual under the personal property provisions of a will or trust.
  6. Tangible personal property may include property used in business operations that were conducted directly by the decedent.

The will or trust may contain a definition of tangible personal property to clarify the decedent’s intentions. For example, it may state that “tangible personal property” does not include cash, securities, or stock certificates. However, rewards points, frequent flyer miles, season tickets to a sports team, and private club memberships are not typically considered tangible personal property. However, the definition may be specifically drafted to include these items.

If the will or trust does not contain a definition of tangible personal property, it can be helpful for the executor, administrator, or trustee to consult with an attorney for clarification. A clearly defined estate plan can also help guide the executor, administrator, or trustee in their duties.

Determining which items are considered tangible personal property and which are not can be challenging, especially for those who have not administered many estates in the past. We are here to help. Contact us at (714) 282-7488 for more information or to attend our free monthly seminar. We offer assistance in creating or modifying estate plans, as well as guidance in administering estate plans.

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