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Transfering Personal Property


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The proper methods and considerations involved in passing on personal items are often missed in estate planning. Who will get Dad's pipe or Mom's china set? Some guidelines to assist in passing personal property in Wyoming.

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Transfering Personal Property

  1. 1. Bill Taylor Northeast Area Community Development Educator UW Extension The University of Wyoming is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. 1
  2. 2.  PLANNING AHEAD; DIFFICULT DECISIONS  Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? A Guide to Passing on Personal Possessions University of Wyoming Extension bulletin series; September 2013; Aaron Lyttle, Cole Ehmke, Mary Martin, Bill Taylor; available at ns and enter Lyttle as author (1999) University of Minnesota. MI-6686-WG. 800-876-8636. University of Wyoming 2
  3. 3.  Passing It On: An Estate Planning Resource Guide for Wyoming’s Farmers and Ranchers; published by the Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediation Program and the University of Wyoming Extension, February 2011 University of Wyoming 3
  4. 4.   We all have personal items that are important or precious to us or to those that are associated with us In estate planning, personal items are often ignored, yet they may cause some of the most significant emotions and conflicts University of Wyoming 4
  5. 5.   • • • • • • • • • Personal items that do not have a registered title, such as land or vehicles Non-titled property includes items like: Guns, sports equipment Tools Furniture Books, papers Dishes Collections Hobby or handmade items Linens, needlework, quilts Clothes • • • • • • • • • Jewelry Tack Photos, pictures Personal care items Antiques Gifts Toys Musical instruments Anything with emotional and/or economic value University of Wyoming 5
  6. 6.    Inheritance is not simply an economic and legal issue and personal items are a major part of the process Complex emotional and family relationships impact decision making Inheritance decisions concerning personal property involve economic and emotional consequences and can enhance or destroy family continuity University of Wyoming 6
  7. 7.   There tends to be less stress and emotion if a plan is developed before death While property holder is of clear mind and sound health, if possible University of Wyoming 7
  8. 8.    Sentimental meanings make decisions more emotional Objects involve the process of grieving and saying goodbye Objects help preserve memories, family history and family rituals University of Wyoming 8
  9. 9.  Being “fair” is more complex: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦  Personal belongings have different meanings Difficult to measure worth or value Impossible to divide items “equally” Unresolved conflicts may interfere w/ objective decisions Distribution methods and consequences are less-clear University of Wyoming 9
  10. 10.  Who is involved? ◦ Children? Spouses? Grandchildren? Siblings? Others?  How do we proceed? ◦ Who is informed and when? How is a value established for each item? Can long-distance methods be used?  When do we proceed? ◦ Does everyone have to be present?  What methods and standards should be used to maintain consistency? University of Wyoming 10
  11. 11. Family members will consider the process unfair if they feel moral and ethical standards are not followed or they have no voice in the decisions University of Wyoming 11
  12. 12.  These are sensitive issues ◦ Will create internal stress even in well adjusted families  Include family discussions & conferences ◦ Values & goals ◦ What is “fair” versus “equal”? ◦ What is important to the family? To the person who will pass on the personal items? University of Wyoming 12
  13. 13.   Select meeting place & time Designate someone to record decisions made ◦ Unrecorded decisions will be a source of disagreement later  Who is included? ◦ Parents & siblings only? ◦ Do siblings act as representative for spouses & grandchildren? ◦ Include spouses? Grandchildren? Other family members? ◦ What about friends, significant others, exspouses, caregivers, attorneys, mediators? University of Wyoming 13
  14. 14.  Determine shared goals: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Maintaining privacy? Improving family relationships? Being fair to all involved? Preserving memories? Contributing to society? University of Wyoming 14
  15. 15.  Provide everyone involved with a copy of Rules for Deciding Who Receives Which Items ahead of time and then discuss the questions one by one at the meeting ◦ Try to reach consensus  If necessary, go ahead to inventorying items, and then come back to those questions creating differences *Handout: Rules for Deciding Who Receives Which Items University of Wyoming 15
  16. 16.  Other questions for consideration: ◦ Are there other goals beyond those that were listed that you feel are important? ◦ Which goals are the most important to you and which least important? ◦ Do any of your own goals conflict? Do any of the goals of family members conflict? ◦ Are there others (other owners, other family members) that need to have input into these goals? There is no perfect method – stay focused on your goals University of Wyoming 16
  17. 17.   Final decision for disposition – property owner(s) Once potential heirs are given opportunity to express wishes, they should respect decision of those passing on their “stuff” Family relationships and continuity are VASTLY more important than the possession of “stuff.” University of Wyoming 17
  18. 18. University of Wyoming 18
  19. 19.   Owners and recipients work together Start in one location – house, barn, garage, etc. ◦ Work systematically from one end to the other  Don’t overlook items ◦ Some will be important to owners, some to recipients, some to both, some to neither  You won’t know without looking at each item University of Wyoming 19
  20. 20.    Leave last two columns (“Requested By” and “Agreed Receiver”) blank for now Work from room to room, building to building Most people don’t think they have much, but once the inventory starts it may take multiple days University of Wyoming 20
  21. 21.  Provide copy of inventory to recipients ◦ From previous discussions:  Do all extended family members get a copy and a voice?  Do siblings act as a representative for their spouses and children?  Does the owner make the determination w/o any requests? University of Wyoming 21
  22. 22.  Final decision belongs to owner, but usually best to encourage communication from potential recipients ◦ We often don’t know what is important to others ◦ The item which created the most difficulty in my parent’s property dispersion was the cribbage board desired by two granddaughters, because they both treasured the memory of playing cribbage with their grandfather. University of Wyoming 22
  23. 23.   Family members mark those items they desire in “Requested BY” column w/ their initials Transfer all requests to a master list ◦ Some items will have multiple requests ◦ Some items will have one request ◦ Some items will have no requests University of Wyoming 23
  24. 24.  This is usually the responsibility of the owner if they are physically & mentally capable ◦ If not capable or deceased, responsibility will fall to appointed personal representative  Items w/ one or no requests can be decided relatively easily University of Wyoming 24
  25. 25.  For items that are requested by multiple persons, some decision format must be used ◦ Owner might consider each item and those requesting it and allocate items according to their own values and desires ◦ Alternative methods:  Shake dice     High roller – 1st choice Second high – 2nd choice After going around, reverse the order of those choosing After everyone has chosen twice, roll again for a new order University of Wyoming 25
  26. 26. ◦ Alternative methods (cont.):  Draw  Each draws number, straw, card, etc. which determines choice order as with dice  Private Auction  Family buys items in auction using real or “funny” money, marbles, chips.  Real money goes to owner or estate  Real money allows richer family members to have an advantage  Silent Auction  Written bids placed on items  Real or substitute money can be used as in private auction University of Wyoming 26
  27. 27.  Alternative methods (cont.): ◦ Grouping preference  Selection begins w/ oldest, proceeds to youngest  Males first, then females  Etc. ◦ Generation preference  Priority given to parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, blood relatives, etc. ◦ Others  Public auction, yard sale, estate sale, etc.  Proceeds to owner or divided by agreed on formula University of Wyoming 27
  28. 28.  Gift the items immediately ◦ Not usually practical for all items if the owner is still living ◦ Some items could be distributed now, if owner is willing to part with them  Items to be distributed later ◦ Complete Personal Property Memorandum      Binding document Must be referred to in will Keep on file w/ will or other legal documents List each item & name, address, & relationship of recipient Each page must be signed & dated University of Wyoming 28
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  30. 30.  For items removed or added to list ◦ Sign & date new page with changes University of Wyoming 30
  31. 31.  Personal items preserve and carry forward the family culture and heritage ◦ Tell stories about the family and the source, use, importance of items as they are inventoried, assigned and gifted  Use the estate planning process as a way to pass on, not only animate objects, but a sense of the past, the values, and the history of the family University of Wyoming 31
  32. 32. University of Wyoming 32