When a person makes his or her Will, they tend to focus on two different areas. The first area is what person or persons will receive the estate of the person making the Will and how the estate will be managed after they pass away. The second area is who will care for the children of the person making the Will once the person is gone. These two areas are incredibly important and are justifiably the focus of the plan.
What these two areas do not necessarily address is what happens to specific important personal belongings (tangible personal property). Perhaps someone has a family heirloom or certain piece of jewelry that they want someone, in particular, to receive upon their passing. While these items may not have a large monetary value, their sentimental value can be immense. This strong sentimental value is often placed on these items both by the person who owns them during their lifetime and also by the individuals who may receive them upon the other person’s passing. If there is no clarity as to who receives what, disputes and family strife are often the consequences.
Nebraska law allows for a simple way to direct who receives specific personal belongings. The law allows a person’s Will to refer to an extraneous list that is separate from the Will. The list sets out who receives which piece or pieces of personal property. The list should be signed and dated by the person making it. The list also needs to adequately describe both the item and the person to receive it.
Additionally, the list can be changed or destroyed at any time. This is important because it allows the person who made the list to change its provisions without changing the terms of his or her Will. This simplifies the process and often decreases expense as these changes can usually be made without the assistance of an attorney.
The list is only for tangible personal property. It cannot direct the disposition of intangible personal property, such as money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title, securities, or property used in trade or business. For example, a person cannot use the list to leave cash to someone else, and they cannot use the list to leave a vehicle or a piece of real estate.
The list directing the disposition of tangible personal property is an important tool to be used in conjunction with a Will to make certain that an individual’s important personal possessions are left to those who will treasure them the most.