Late last week, I had a lively discussion with a client about their personal property memorandum in their estate plan. We had figured out the distribution of the big items on their list. But now it was down to the last few things. The client wasn’t sure what they wanted to do with a few heirlooms around the house. They weren’t valuable in monetary terms, but they had sentimental value. Down the road, the client’s children might get married, and the heirlooms might then go to different people. The client was worried about having to execute a codicil every time a life event happened and she changed her mind.
Luckily, there’s no need for a codicil every time. I explained that we could use a personal property memorandum to get these heirlooms taken care of.
What is a Personal Property Memorandum?
A Personal Property Memorandum (“PPM”) is a separate document that lists how you want the specific personal property to be distributed. Think of small things around the house. They might not have a large monetary value, but you know your cousin really loved that small art print you brought back from Vienna.
When you create a PPM, you don’t need to have it witnessed and notarized. It’s a less formal document, although you should keep it with your will. If you need to change it, you can do that on your own, but be sure to sign and date the new version. That way a person reviewing the PPMs (if there are multiple) can figure out which represents your most recent wishes.
What is Required?
The requirements for a PPM are less formal than a will or trust. The PPM,
- Must be signed by you or be in your handwriting;
- Must be referred to in your will; and
- Must describe the property and who will be getting it with “reasonable certainty.”
Although it is not technically required, it’s a good idea to have your PPM dated as I described above.
If you are dealing with very valuable assets (your authentic Van Gogh for example), it’s better to put those items in your will or trust. But for smaller items (grandma’s collection of nutcrackers), a PPM is a good way to ensure they get to the right person.
If you don’t have a will yet, or if you have one that you may need to update to include a Personal Property Memorandum, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can review the best options for you.