I was drawn to an interesting article today that described the Will of Adriana Xenides . The article describes her bequest of “magazine clippings, videos and memorabilia” left to a close friend.
It’s an area of estate planning that is often overlooked, particularly when people make an appointment with a lawyer. Your Will is your chance to be creative with how your possessions are distributed, so if you have a signed photo of John Lennon, you might want to pass it on to your friend who is the huge Beatles fan. Another friend may have always admired your amusing cufflinks. Your favourite well-thumbed paperback may mean something to a particular family member, but not so much to your main beneficiary.
In most cases an estate is distributed with everything going to a main beneficiary, but family heirlooms and personal effects should be distributed with more thought. A collection of old letters may not belong with the main estate, but should be identified as a specific item going to a specific beneficiary. In fact, old letters may have more meaning to certain family members than a car, house or cottage.
In most cases when you make an appointment with a lawyer to prepare your Will, they will ask you to name your main beneficiary, guardians, the Executor, and then they will write your Will for you. They are not likely to have much patience if you start listing a teapot, a postcard, a love letter, a DVD collection, a hockey stick and so forth, even if they are charging by the hour. Furthermore, if your relationships change and the beneficiary of a specific item may not be appropriate any more, you are not likely to want to return to a lawyer’s office to make such a subtle change.
That’s why we encourage our customers at LegalWills to be creative. To think about their legacy and take time over who they would want to receive each of their possessions. Everybody will always have a main beneficiary, but you can take as long as you need to list the things you own and if any item is to be received by somebody other than the main beneficiary, include it as a specific item in the Will.
If a relationship changes, you can make an update in a few seconds and create a new Will without any further charge.
You have a chance to be creative with your legacy. Spend some time over it and make sure that everything is being passed on to the most appropriate person.