Personal property is a person’s “stuff” – the couch, rings, tools, etc… It does not include cash accounts, cars, or land. You must first read the will or trust to see if your parents left any instructions regarding how their personal property should be divided. Often a personal property memo is authorized by the estate plan, which provides that specific items be given to certain people. These are called “specific distributions.” Any items that are not specifically distributed will pass to the beneficiaries of the estate in shares determined by the estate plan. If there is no plan, distribution pattern will be determined by state law. Dividing the personal property does not mean you have to cut the couch in three pieces and give one to each heir. Rather, it requires the trustee or personal representative make sure the personal property is divided so that each person receives an amount of property in proportion to their share. The children will often decide among themselves what is fair and the trustee or personal representative has the authority to settle disputes. If certain property is unwanted it is often sold and the proceeds are divided between the beneficiaries.
Don’t let your kids divide your property. A war will eventually erupt. Get your Will or Trust up to date.