How to Deal with All of Your “Stuff” in your Estate Plan

Originally published in September 2018 and updated and republished May 2021.

Every Estate Plan has to address how to distribute the tangible personal property (“Tangible Personal Property” or “TPP”) that someone owns.

Tangible Personal Property are assets that one can touch and hold – it is basically your “stuff” – furniture, appliances, clothing, jewelry, artwork, automobile, boats, stamp collections, coins, photographs, quilts, etc.

TPP does not include things such as real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies and other types of assets that you cannot “hold or touch”.

Here are some tips and pointers on how to address your Tangible Personal Property (or your “stuff”) in your Estate Plan:

General Household Items Are Valued at 5-10% of Replacement Value For Estate Planning purposes – the value of your TPP will not be the “Replacement Value” but rather the “Estate Sale” or “Garage Sale” value of those assets. For example, all of your General Household Items might cost $100,000 to replace, but if you had to sell those items to liquidate you will only get 5 - 10% on the dollar.

For that reason, we would value your General Household Items at the $5,000 -- $10,000 Estate Sale Value --- not $100,000 Replacement Value. Sometimes, this difference matters when determining if the total estate would be subject to estate tax or not.

More Valuable Tangible Personal Property Items

TPP items such as artwork, coin collections, etc. may have high monetary value. During our initial meeting, I have clients give a ballpark estimate as to the value of these items – and then, eventually, we may need a formal appraisal to know the value of these items for certain.

Gold and diamond jewelry have a “Retail Value” and a “Wholesale Value”. Executor and Trustee clients I have worked with were only offered Wholesale Value for jewelry they were trying to sell on behalf of an estate – this was usually about 30-50% of the retail value.

China and other collections in your Estate Plan, Will, & Trust

Collectables That are Not Valuable Anymore

Beanie Baby collections, Hummels, and Longerberger baskets are not worth much today - in fact – it may be hard to even give these items away.

China dishes and silverware have also substantially dropped in value. Younger generations do not collect or value these items like previous generations.

Vehicles are Considered Tangible Personal Property

Cars, trucks, boats, trailers and recreation vehicles are also classified as Tangible Personal Property for Estate Planning purposes. These vehicles are generally the most expensive TPP items