What is a personal property memorandum with my Minnesota will?

The first thing you need to know is that you're not allowed to use a personal property memorandum in all states. So before you add a personal property memorandum to your estate plan, make sure you check to see whether it's valid in your state. I've found that some of those online websites offer a personal property memorandum even in states where they aren't considered valid.

What is a Personal Property Memorandum?

A personal property memorandum is a simple way to distribute smaller items in your estate plan. For example, if you want to leave your artwork to your cousin, or your baseball cards to your brother, or maybe your fine china to your sister, these can all be done in a personal property memorandum.

It's a simple document, sometimes no more than one page long. You create the list and then there's your specific language that goes at the top. You make sure it's signed by you. It's referenced in your will and you describe the items that are to be given, and you want to make sure it's dated.

One of the places where I see people mess up is when they haven't worked with a professional, you can create the personal property memorandum, but a lot of times they forget to add it into their will. They've used an online website just to spit out a form for the will and they sign it and then they read about a personal property memorandum and think that's a great idea, but the will doesn't say that the personal property should be governed by the personal property memorandum.

Why Should I Use a Personal Property Memorandum?

There can be a few different reasons why you want to use a Personal Property Memorandum,

  • It's usually the easiest way for you to distribute family heirlooms ~ you can identify them in an informal manner, "The artwork in the hallway, the baseball cards in the safe deposit box, or the fine china that our grandmother gave us years ago."
  • It's a lot easier to update than your will ~ when you want to change the list, let's say you no longer have your baseball card collection, or now you've inherited more china from the family and you want to make sure it stays in the family. A personal property memorandum is very easy to update. All you have to do is write an updated list, put a date on it, and sign it. If you're putting all these things into your will with what's called a specific distribution, if you wanted to continuously update this, you would have to either do a codicil or do a whole new will each time. That can be a very expensive way for you to distribute some of your personal property.

So if it's time for you to work with the personal property memorandum, let's schedule a Legal Strategy Session to discuss the best options for you.

Andrew Ayers
Connect with me
I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.