In last month’s Report I said I would go into more detail on the subject of making a tangible personal property list. It’s a list you can make to go with your will. Arizona law says that a will may refer to a written statement to dispose of tangible personal property other than money. That’s the tangible personal property list.
The list can be prepared before or after your will is signed, and can be either handwritten or typed, as long as it is signed. It must describe the items and the beneficiaries “with reasonable certainty.” I always suggest that the list specifically refer to your will.
What sorts of items can be on a tangible personal property list? Here’s the explanation I use: anything you can hold in your hands, from a diamond to a grand piano, except cash money, is tangible personal property and can therefore be included on your list.
The list doesn’t have to be exhaustive. It can identify items individually or by category (for example, “my Hummel figurine collection”) as long as the items are adequately identified. Just remember that any items not identified either individually or by category on the list will be included with the “residue” (i.e., the rest) of your estate, and won’t be affected by the list.
You can include vehicles on your tangible personal property list. As I explained in last month’s Report, however, you also have the option of using the beneficiary designation form for vehicle titles (at least, you have that option if your vehicle has an Arizona title; I don’t know if other states have something similar).
I almost forgot something important about a tangible personal property list. One of the benefits of using a separate list for your tangible personal property instead of itemizing it in your will is that you can change the list without having to make a new will. As I always tell people after they have signed their wills, you can change the will as long as you are alive and competent, but changing it requires executing another document with the same formality as the original, meaning with witnesses and a notary. With the tangible personal property list, you can just write a new one, without notary or witnesses or anything. Make sure you tear up the old one, and put the new one with your will.
So when you’re making a will, if you have tangible items that you want particular people to have, make sure that your will includes a provision for a tangible personal property list, write the list, and keep the list with your will.
Nathan B. Hannah is a Shareholder in the Tucson office, and practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, and commercial transactions. He is also a noted blogger, and you can find more of his articles on his private blog,
Contact Attorney Hannah: firstname.lastname@example.org or 520/ 322-5000