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How to Dispose of your "Stuff"


Even a wealthy person may often be concerned about the possessions which they have around them. Although you may have large financial accounts, you may be more concerned about the things which you have collected or been given over the years. At first glance, this may not make much sense to others around you, because the items may not be of great financial value. But you may have developed great emotional attachment to these items. In fact, there is a psychology of the attachment people have to their stuff, which you can find in this article. In a very extreme case, it manifests as hoarding.


Perhaps you have started some kind of a collection. Maybe it's the baseball card collection which you started when you were six years old. Or a stamp collection your father started when he was a boy. Or perhaps it's the drawings you did while recovering from a stroke. Some of these items might have financial value while others might have only emotional value.


What is the best way to dispose of your personal belongings, especially if they have financial or emotional value? You could give the items away during your lifetime. That has many advantages, including being able to watch the joy on the recipient's face when receiving it. But often it can be hard to want to part with these items during your lifetime.


If you would rather wait until after your death to part with your personal belongings, you can handle these sorts of specific bequests through a reference to a tangible personal property list or memorandum. Such a list or memorandum is a valid way to bequeath property in Oregon and Washington. The estate planning document would reference the list. You would then list the items on a list, indicating a description of the items and to whom you would like them to go to. This list would then be signed and dated, but you would not need to notarize this document for it to be valid.


If down the road you changed your mind to whom you would like certain things to go to, you could simply change the list. Or if you thought of an additional bequest, you could simply add it to the list. Each time you make a change, you would sign and date the list.


The use of the tangible personal property list or memorandum has many benefits, including its simplicity. But this list may also give you more direct control over your personal property and the items which might have the greatest emotional value to you.

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