Designating Beneficiaries of your Personal Property

When you think about how you want your property distributed in your will, you may have personal property that you want a particular person to receive. For example, you may want each of your daughters to receive a specific item of your mother’s jewelry that has been passed down for generations, you may want your son to take the coin collection that he has always admired, or perhaps you want to donate your book collection to the local library.

Designating beneficiaries of personal property can be included in your will. However, your will may become very long if you have several gifts to make. In addition, if you want to change the list or add additional items, you’ll need to rewrite your will. The solution? A personal property list.

A personal property list is a document separate from your will in which you designate who will receive specific items of your tangible personal property. The types of property that can be designated include things like household goods, furnishings, furniture, personal effects, clothing, jewelry, books, works of art, ornaments, and automobiles. To make your personal property list legally binding, it must be referenced in your will. The list must describe the items and beneficiaries with reasonable certainty so that your executor can easily distribute the property.

The personal property list can be prepared before or after the execution of your will and can be changed as many times as you like. The list must be dated and be either be in your handwriting or signed by you. The list does not need to be signed in the presence of witnesses or a notary. If you want to update your personal property list in the future, you can simply update the list instead of updating your entire will.

Because a personal property list is a separate document from your will, you should keep the list with your will, or state in your will where the list can be located.

This blog post is intended only to be informative and is not a substitute for comprehensive legal advice. For legal advice regarding your estate planning needs, please call our office at (319) 260-2096 or e-mail

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