A Gift List is a very important piece to have in your Estate Plan. It seems kind of simplistic but it isn’t. Normally with either a will or a trust it will include a provision that include a Gift List. A gift list is nothing more than a document saying which personal property items are going to be transferred to whom.

While that sounds simple, lots of folks think, “Well, I’ll just leave that up to whoever is going to be the personal representative of the estate or the successor trustee of the trust” (Normally it’s to the oldest brother or sister) They think that whoever that person is will do a good job of passing things out.

The problem with that is if, for example, two sisters want mom’s wedding ring and older brother, who is the personal representative, gives it to one sister over the other – now they’re mad at the older brother. Realistically, instead of being mad at mom or dad for not having prepared a gift list. It’s okay for them to be mad at mom. Mom’s gone. It’s not okay for them to be mad at their brother who was just doing his level best to pass things out as equally and as fairly as he can. In this example, it just so happens that mom’s wedding ring ended up in one sister’s hands instead of another sister’s hands.

I highly recommend that people do a gift list for that very reason because keepsake items, memorabilia, family pictures, dad’s gun collection, mom’s wedding ring, mom’s jewelry, dad’s tools – things of that nature, all become really, really important to children and mom and dad probably don’t think of it way but they are.

They become very important to them as keepsake items and feelings can get hurt when one child gets something that maybe several children would like. That decision should come from Mom or from Dad, not from brother or sister who’s responsible for administering the estate because then they’re mad at them. You can avoid that with a gift list. 

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