When people in Massachusetts think about an inheritance, they may have more in mind than a loved one’s financial assets. In fact, many family conflicts begin over who will get an heirloom or another personal item that may have little or no financial value at all. The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states that information regarding who will receive tangible property after the owner’s death may be included in a separate writing as an addendum to a will, and may be created either before or after the will is executed.
For the document bequeathing a person’s items to be legally binding, it has to provide enough details about each object that there is no doubt what the list refers to. The testator must also sign the document.
NextAvenue.org notes that the document, which is called a personal property memorandum, does not require notarization or the signatures of witnesses. This simplifies matters because people often purchase, sell or give away their personal items as their lives change. Going through the formality after selling a vehicle or buying a necklace could become a burden, as common events such as these would require frequent changes. Modifying the memorandum can be done without making any adjustments to the will or contacting an attorney. However, it may be a good idea to refer to the updated version in the will when bequests are modified significantly.
Just as it is a good idea to ensure that family members are familiar with the contents of the will, it is also likely to reduce the chances of disputes by discussing the contents of the memorandum, as well.