Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate Or Grandpa's Toy Truck

Throughout the estate planning process, questions may arise about the more sentimental items that mom and dad or grandparents have. How do you distribute these family heirlooms (non-titled property) and help keep the peace among family members? The process can cause stress and tension, especially if a plan was not made before a person died.

Non-titled property is “NOT cash, stocks, and bonds, mutual funds, other intangible personal property, or real estate because those items have titles,” said Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist. Non-titled property includes family photos, favorite baking dishes, guns or other items that may have sentimental value to the person who owns them and to potential receivers.

There are numerous ways families have used to distribute these types of properties. Tossing the dice, drawing numbers out of a hat, oldest child gets the first choice, and by gender. These methods can create added strains among family members.

Most people are unaware of a Montana Uniform Probate Code provision allowing a person to create a separate list specifying the distribution of personal belongings. “The list is not a part of the will but separate from it. The list must identify both items and the persons to receive them with reasonable certainty,” said Goetting. There must also be a paragraph in the will saying a person has a separate list of tangible personal property. This paragraph gives legal weight for the personal representative to distribute the items to individuals listed.

Another way families have distributed property is by gifting these possessions to individuals prior to death. “This is something my grandfather occasionally did, especially when he got older. He would occasionally give my cousins or me some of his little knick knacks,” said Krug. “Another strategy to help reduce some of the sadness of going through my grandmother’s possessions after her death was when we moved her to assisted living. The whole family went through the house and were able to choose those sentimental items.”

These are just some ways that non-titled property can be distributed among family and friends either before or after death. Remember when you begin planning or distributing your property what your goals are for those items and what fair means to your family. Also, keep in mind that some items could be treasured more by some family members than other relatives. For example, grandma’s pottery serving bowl might not appeal to her great-granddaughter but might be treasured by her granddaughter.

To get the Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? Transferring Non-Titled Property MontGuide and other estate planning MontGuides, contact Carrie Krug at the MSU Extension Richland County office at 406-433-1206 or find them online here: https://www.montana.edu/estateplanning/eppublications.html


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