One thing I have seen that is a very uncomfortable situation is where a parent leaves all of their assets to the Stepparent of their Adult Children. That Stepparent then has an estate liquidation sale selling all of the personal effects of their spouse. The adult children had to go to a public auction to bid to purchase their own childhood toys and family heirlooms. This caused great animosity between the Adult Children and the Stepparent.
Most of my clients do Trust Planning and will Assign all of their Personal Property to their Trust. They will also use a Personal Property Memorandum that they list specific asset items to specific individuals. That way you can leave a laundry list of what personal effects you want to leave to loved ones. As they say there is a difference between “junk” and “stuff”. The “stuff” might be worth leaving to someone as it may have an emotional value. The “junk”, not so much.
You can be thoughtful and you can avoid conflict within your family by providing for your later spouse, but also leave personal effects to your adult children. Something that is valuable within the family may have no value to your spouse. Your grandfather’s shotgun may have great value to you personally, as you went bird hunting with him as a child, but it has no emotional value to your later spouse. You can use the Personal Property Memorandum to make sure that your grandfather’s shotgun goes to one of your adult sons or daughters who bird hunts. Similarly with a piece of furniture, it may have very little fair market value, but may have a lot of sentimental value to the family.
At the Law Firm of Steven Andrew Jackson, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, we have helped hundreds of families protect themselves and their loved ones, avoid Estate Taxes and Probate Costs, and keep their Estate Plans current with the law through The Customized Protective Estate Planning Solution™.