When a loved one dies, family members can find themselves clutching at furniture, jewelry, silver and artwork. Death heightens emotions, and sometimes relatives descend upon a home and help themselves to personal possessions without permission. Other times, relatives say something was “promised” to them, even if there’s no evidence to support it.
To avoid this, Colorado law recognizes an easy-to-use tool for parceling out “tangible personal property:” a Memorandum of Disposition.
This Memorandum is not a complex legal form; it is simply a handwritten or typewritten list that describes items and states who is to receive them upon your death. It must be signed and dated, and it should be kept with your will. The memorandum can cover items such as vehicles, jewelry and furniture.
Although we strongly suggest you write a will, even if you don’t, you can still create this list. Make sure you store it someplace prominent and sign it. And remember, a memorandum cannot be used to dispose of real estate, securities, insurance and many other assets.
For more information about the practical and emotional issues related to handing a spouse’s affairs, see Life After Death – A Legal and Practical Guide for Surviving Spouses by Marilyn W. McWilliams, J.D.