The Meaning of “Tangible Property” In An Estate Plan


When drafting your will and other legal documents in your estate plan, you will undoubtedly come across the term “tangible property.” Do you know what “tangible property” refers to?  Tangible property is personal property, other than cash, that you can touch. Such property includes household items like furniture and appliances, personal items like clothing and jewelry, and other items you can physically put your hands on such as books, art, writings, music collections, and even pets.  

The importance of critically thinking about what will happen to your tangible property in the event of your death can sometimes be overlooked. Tangible property is often the property that carries with it some very strong emotions. If you have multiple children, there may be conflict over who gets family heirlooms if you do not specify the gifts in your will.  For example, who gets mom’s engagement ring, who gets dad’s signed baseball collection, or who gets the grandfather clock that has been passed through generations may cause significant rifts in the family if the family is left to decide for themselves. It can be important to spend time thinking through these issues so that your wishes are known and clearly articulated in your estate planning documents.

Remember, if you die without a will, your tangible property will pass along with the rest of your estate according to your state’s intestacy laws.  In order to help ensure that you can designate which beneficiaries get which items of your tangible property, it can be important to work with an estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process.  Be sure to discuss items of significant value to you with your attorney, including wedding rings, other expensive jewelry, and valuable artwork.  You should also know that certain types of tangible property have their own rules and regulations, like firearms and alcohol, so you would want to discuss these with your attorney as well.

For assistance in creating a comprehensive estate plan that provides for your tangible property, please contact our office to schedule an appointment. 

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