What happens to your personal belongings after you die? Whether or not you have thought about it or experienced it first-hand, chances are you know someone who might have been faced with this question when someone close to them has passed. Your belongings involve all forms of personal possessions such as clothing, jewelry, family heirlooms, memorabilia and personal property like your home and vehicles. Personal possessions in legal language is called chattels.
Even if your family and friends know your wishes for who should receive your personal belongings, they aren’t always granted. If you die without a last will it is known as “intestate,” which means the state will decide how your property is distributed. How personal belongings are distributed after you die depends on the state you live in, but in general most states follow familial lineage guidelines:
Who Gets My Stuff When I die?
Spouse, Children, Parents
If you have a spouse and children, your property is divided among them.
If you have children but no spouse, your children will get your property.
If you have a spouse, parents and siblings, but no children, some states will give all to your spouse and some states divide between spouse, parents and siblings.
Siblings, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews
If you do not have a spouse, children or parents, your siblings get your property.
If none of the above apply or are surviving, the familial order in which your belongings are distributed includes: grandparents, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews.
What about friends?
Many of us have acquired friends over the years who feel like family. If you would like friends to receive your personal belongings after you die it’s best to get a will. You can create a will through an attorney or service like LegalZoom.
How will my loved ones know my final wishes?
Personal belongings are sometimes the only tangible reminder of a loved one who has passed and can be the source of great debate for those left behind. Eliminate the stress, confusion and second-guessing for family and friends by storing your final wishes in a secure and safe environment, ready to be shared when the time is right.
Death is a part of life. Your Life. Their Future. Start planning today.
"Being in the financial planning industry for over 35 years and focusing on end of life planning, we’ve become accustomed to seeing first-hand what families go through after the death of a loved one. Many times, there is added pain and frustration because they just don’t know what to do." Michelle Braddock, Co-Founder, My Life and Wishes Inc.
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