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Estate and Elder Law

Dedon on Estate Planning: Disposition of Tangible Personal Property in a Side Letter

A common question asked by clients preparing their Wills is how to dispose of tangible personal property upon death. For example, I am asked, "I have jewelry and a coin collection, do I need to specify how those items are distributed among my children upon my death or can I simply tell the children my wishes?"

Virginia law allows you to transfer tangible personal property upon your death without describing the items specifically in your Will. Provided the appropriate set-up language is in your Will, you can dispose of tangible personal property, such as jewelry, artwork, collectibles, etc., in a letter that is merely signed and dated. The advantage of the side letter is that it can be changed without the formality of re-executing the Will. Non-Virginia residents need to check their state to see if there is a similar provision.

Attached is a sample side letter under Virginia law.

Download Sample side ltr

Read more discussion of estate planning topics affecting Virginia residents and U.S. citizens at Dedon on Estate Planning.

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