When you completed your estate plan, did you provide for the disposition of your personal property-the bits and pieces of your life?
Some estate plans simply provide that your heirs get to decide who- gets-what of the bits and pieces of your life after your death. By leaving it up to your heirs to decide you may be setting the stage for discord to arise among your heirs-“but mom said this was mine…, dad always said this is for me”. Is this really the legacy you want to leave?
The simplest way of course is to give the item to the individual before you die. If, however, you do not want to do this, there are options available to direct gifts to specific individuals as part of your estate plan.
If you have a trust. If you have a trust, your trust document may provide that you can leave a list of which item goes to whom. The trust may also provide that the list can be updated as time goes on. The key of course is that you make the list and that the trustee can easily find the list after your death. Not every item needs to be on the list, just those items that you have decided must go to a particular person.
If you have a will. If you want a particular item to go to a particular person you should provide for it within the will document and not on a separate list. If the executor finds a list that is not part of the will itself, he/she may follow your directions but is not required to do so. If you are trying to prevent heirs from fighting over the bits and pieces, the better option is to include the list within the will document itself. Any changes to a list included within a will is a change to the will itself, and must follow the legal requirements applicable to changes to a will.
If you want to choose the person that inherits grandma’s recipe collection, communicate that choice in your estate plan documents.