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During the administration of your loved one’s estate, you may be responsible for distributing his or her 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 will fall under this provision. Identifying what is tangible and what is not, helps the executor, administrator, or trustee to properly administer the estate. Do not face this sometimes daunting challenge alone.

6 Tips for Distinguishing Tangible Personal Property During Estate Administration

An attorney can help you define what type of property you are dealing with and how to follow the estate plan laid out, or how to best create an estate plan with clear terms to be followed. The following are six helpful tips for determining items in your loved one’s estate that constitute tangible personal property and what does not:

  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 his or her individual name.
  3. Tangible personal property typically does not include cash.
  4. Tangible personal property typically does not include stocks that are held in certificate form.
  5. If the 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 all of 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.

Additionally, the will or trust itself will often contain a definition of tangible personal property. This helps to clarify the decedent’s intentions. For example, the definition may state that “tangible personal property” does not include cash, securities, or stock certificates. Further, such items as 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 of tangible personal property in the will or trust may be specifically drafted to include these items.

If the will or trust does not contain a definition for tangible personal property, it can be very helpful for the executor, administrator or trustee of the estate to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to help clarify the meaning. It is also a good idea to have a clearly defined estate plan that leaves the executor, administrator, or trustee with a real idea of what they need to do to honor your estate plan.

Unless you have administered many estates in the past, determining which items of property are considered tangible personal property and which property is not can be trickier than they first seem. Fortunately, we can help alleviate any confusion. We encourage you to contact us today at 714-459-5481 for more information. You can also sign up to attend our free monthly seminar. We are here to help people who need to create estate plans, or modify existing estate plans. We also provide guidance in administering estate plans when needed.

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