Personal Property Memorandum: Where There’s a Will, There’s an Easier Way

Slide1So you have a will and maybe a revocable trust, documents you’ve paid your attorney good money for. And in your will–and probably in your trust as well–you’ve said you want this item of personal property to go to him and that item to go to her and some other item to go to someone else. And weeks, maybe months or years later, you’ve acquired some more personal property–tangible things like rings or paintings or bikes or books or even a new car. Is it time to return to your attorney and revise your will or trust? Maybe. Maybe not.

For many of you, it’s maybe not, at least for those of you in Utah or Wyoming. You see, both of these states as well as some 40 others, allow you to “add” those new items to your will with what is called a personal property memorandum. It’s a simple document that is essentially a place to list each item you want to dispose of at death. Simply jot the name or description of the item on the memo, then right next to it, write the name of the person or organization you want to receive it when you die.

Your attorney probably discussed personal property memorandums with you when you first met about your will. To find out if she did, simply read your will. If it refers to something like “a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will, other than money,” your will allows for this simple procedure. (Actually, it will probably use very similar words since they appear in both the Utah and Wyoming Probate Codes.)

If words like that do appear in your will and if your attorney hasn’t already provided you a personal property memorandum, then it’s a simple matter of typing one up, say something like this:

     Personal Property Memorandum for the Will of John Doe

My will referred to a list of tangible personal property. This is such a list.

 Property Description                 Person to Receive the Property

_____________________               ________________________

_____________________               ________________________

_____________________               ________________________

                    etc. etc. etc.

Dated _______________________

Signed by:_____________________

                              John Doe


To be even more clear, you might include serial numbers or other identifying characteristics of each piece of personal property. You might add the address, even phone numbers of the person or persons who will receive that property upon your death. But you get the idea: the personal property memorandum is a relatively simple document.

Now, if it were me, I’d probably still consult my attorney about something like this, just to make sure I get things rights. But the relevant statutes are pretty clear: If the will refers to a written statement or list of the sort described above and if that list exists at the time of your death, is dated, signed by you, and includes “a description of the items and [persons who are to receive those items] with reasonable certainty,” that personal property memorandum will do the job intended. See for yourself at Wyoming Statutes Annotated § 2-6-124 or at Utah Code § 75-2-213.

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