Benefits and Drawbacks of a Personal Property Memorandum

The assets that make up your estate are likely as unique as you are. For some people, their estate consists mainly of real property and investment accounts. For other people, their personal, tangible property has great emotional or monetary value. If you are one of these people, you may wish to consider including a personal property memorandum in your estate plan.

A personal property memorandum, or PPM, is basically just a detailed list of tangible property items that also includes detailed instructions about what you wish done with each item when you die. For example, if you have a room full of family heirlooms, you may include each one in detail and indicate who is to receive each item. If you have an extensive art collection, you could include each piece along with the name of the person, or gallery, that is to receive each piece when you die.

One of the biggest benefits of using a PPM is that you have the flexibility to change it much easier than making a change to your actual Will or Trust. The most significant drawback is that not all states consider a PPM to be a legally binding document even when referenced in your Will or Trust. Some people choose to include one even when it is not legally binding simply because it affords you the opportunity to explain, in detail, who you want to receive items and even why you made the decision. This often prevents family members from fighting over estate assets.