What is the Tangible Personal Property List in Your Will?

personal property

You have likely heard stories about families gathered around the dinner table, fighting over who will take Grandma’s china or Grandpa’s pipe collection. While tangible personal property isn’t usually the most valuable part of a person’s estate, it can be the most sentimental. Including a tangible personal property list with your Will can help resolve these disputes and give your family members meaningful tokens and heirlooms to remember you by.

What is Tangible Personal Property for Estate Planning?

The tangible personal property (TPP) definition is basically what it sounds like. It includes most of the items in a person’s estate you can touch or hold in your hand. After a person passes away, these items become part of the person’s estate, to be divided according to their Will, or the state’s intestacy laws.

Examples of Tangible Personal Property for Estate Planning

  • Motor Vehicles
  • Boats and recreational vehicles
  • Jewelry
  • Collections
  • Firearms
  • Tools
  • Furniture
  • Books
  • Pets

Tangible personal property is a broad category of items, covering everything from valuable family heirlooms to the contents of your junk drawer. However, certain types require special attention because of laws regulating their ownership, registration, and possession:

  • Firearms
  • Alcohol
  • Ivory, furs, and other artifacts made from endangered species
  • Personal planes and large sea vessels

Animals -- including pets -- also count as tangible personal property. Inheriting a pet can come with expensive, sometimes unwanted responsibilities. In addition, different states, and even some apartment and condominium complexes, can have restrictions on exotic pets (like birds, lizards, and some fish) which could make it hard for your heir to accept an inherited animal.

A Note About Florida’s Tangible Personal Property Tax

Though the terms are similar, the Florida tangible personal property tax doesn’t apply to most individual’s estates. TPP tax returns apply to people who own businesses or are self-employed. The state requires these business owners to disclose the value of goods, non-real estate property, and other things of value other than inventory, household goods, and some vehicles. If your loved one died owning a business interest, the estate’s personal representative may have to file one final TPP return on their behalf.

How a Florida Tangible Personal Property List Works

Your Last Will and Testament directs what should happen to your assets after you pass away. Because a Will is often written years before it is needed, it is generally vague, awarding objects by category or percentage. For example, you might give “All my books to my nephew, Anthony” or instruct that “my daughters and granddaughters will share my jewelry equally.” Anything that is not specifically mentioned in your Will gets collected into the “residuary clause” and given to whomever you indicate should receive “all the rest” of your estate.

However, what you own can change quickly, and dramatically. You don’t want to have to update your estate plan every time you make a large purchase. That’s why Florida law allows you to create a tangible personal property list and attach it to your Will. This is a separate written statement, signed by the testator -- you -- that describes the items and who will receive them specifically. For example, you may create a tangible personal property list awarding, “the grandmother clock in the upstairs hall to my niece, Flora Smith.” Including this list with your Will allows you to easily make small changes to your estate plan to account for sentimental items and heirlooms, without the difficulty and expense of preparing a new Will or codicil.

Can a Tangible Personal Property List Replace Your Will?

Since both a Will and a Tangible Personal Property List award property to intended heirs, you may wonder whether it can replace the Will entirely. The answer is no. Under Florida law a tangible personal property list must be incorporated into a Last Will and Testament to be valid. It will not be enough on its own to make sure the right family members receive your heirlooms after you die.

In addition, a tangible personal property list only works for physical items. It won’t allow you to direct who will inherit your home, your bank account, your digital cloud storage account (including all the family photos you’ve uploaded), or the remainder of your 401(k). You should speak to an estate planning attorney to make sure all your assets are accounted for in your estate plan, even the intangible ones.

At Harrison Estate Law, P.A., our experienced estate and probate team can help you document and plan for all of your property and accounts, including your tangible personal property, in a way that makes sense for the size of your estate. We will help you create a plan for your personal items to make sure all the right people receive what they should and make it easy for you to keep that list up to date. Contact us here or call 352-559-9828 to get help today.

Categories: Estate Planning