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When writing your last will and testament it’s often best to keep it simple.

Use plain language.  Limit the number of devisees (the people inheriting your property).  And avoid making conditional gifts.

Simple wills are usually easier and cheaper to administer.

But many people can’t keep it simple.

They often want each piece of personal property to go to a specific heir.

For example, a woman may wish to leave her jewelry and furniture to her daughter, her car to her son, her artwork to a grandchild, etc. etc.

Itemizing such personal property in your will makes the document unnecessarily long and complicated.

One solution is to add a “personal property memorandum” to your estate plan.

The personal property memo is essentially an informal set of instructions from you to your personal representative (i.e., the person probating/administering your estate) telling him or her how you want certain personal items devised.

The advantage of such a document is that it’s not part of the probate process.  So the court does not need to review its terms.

However, this also means that there’s no court oversight regarding the memorandum.

So if the person administering your estate chooses not to follow the terms of the memo, there may be little to no legal recourse.

If you have questions about estate planning, please contact me at