No one wants their loved ones in the midst of a bitter battle about estate planning and inheritance issues, and yet far too many people have seen this firsthand. Thinking that you’re going to inherit something from someone’s will and later learning that another family member has initiated a will contest can be overwhelming as well as frustrating.

Thankfully, there are steps you can put in place to decrease the chances that there’s confusion or even disputes over the distribution of your assets. Multiple states, including Massachusetts, accept a very important document known as a personal property memorandum. This can become one of the most important documents inside your estate plan because it clarifies exactly what you do and don’t want done with your belongings.

A personal property memorandum is used to explain all the individual property you want to leave to your heirs. This means there’s little chance for someone to be confused or for your instructions to be misinterpreted. Listing each item inside your traditional will can be far too much detail, but when you instead list this in a personal property memorandum, it’s easier for the person managing your estate to distribute these details.

When your personal property memorandum details what you want done with your jewelry and furniture, it can’t be misunderstood. As long as this is included with the remainder of your estate planning documents and so long as your executor or your loved ones know where to find these materials after you pass away, you can make things much easier for everyone involved. That’s because your property can promptly be given to who you intend to receive it. This can be a big blessing for someone who does not want the potential of arguments down the road.

When it comes to creating this tool, be as detailed as possible. If you list that one person is to receive your china, but another person gets the “antique serving dish”, this clarifies what is and isn’t part of the general “china.” When you can include clear details about each item, there will be no question about who should receive it.

Whenever you need to include supplemental materials with your basic estate plan, this information should be drafted by a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer who knows the lay of the land.

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