Many Massachusetts residents have estate plans providing a certain percentage of their estates to their heirs. This may be helpful when it comes to the individual's money, but it may not work when it comes to personal possessions. Without some additional consideration in people's wills as to what will happen to possessions such as artwork, furniture and even the china, families can end up in court fighting over an object never considered by the maker of the will.
These items are most often considered to have more sentimental value for family members than monetary value. Guessing who will want what could also result in arguments and resentments after a person's death. One strategy is to ask everyone what objects they consider to be sentimental for them. No guarantees have to be made, but at least the maker is aware of what each person would like to inherit.
It may be a good idea to include these specific bequests in a separate document that accompanies the will. That way, the will does not have to be changed each time a new item is added or subtracted. Of course, problems can arise if two people want the same object. At that point, a little conflict resolution from the beginning may be in order. In some cases, this means the current owner simply making a decision; in other cases, the parties may be involved in the choice.
How a Massachusetts resident chooses to deal with these issues is up to him or her. The important part is that there is some consideration given to personal possessions. In some cases, wills that are too vague regarding the distribution of assets end up doing more harm than good to family members after death.
Source: consumerreports.org, "How to Spare Your Heirs a Battle Over Your Estate", , April 23, 2014