Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

(425) 455-5513

Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?

Posted Saturday, April 30, 2016 by John S. Palmer

When someone dies, dividing items of great sentimental value can be problematic even if they have little or no monetary value. While the executor may call the shots and ultimately get to decide how to divide household furnishings and other tangible personal property, he or she may want to avoid disputes or hard feelings, particularly if the executor is also one of the heirs.

For those looking for some guidance, the University of Minnesota Extension has posted free articles designed to help amicably divide property. A workbook and other materials are also available for purchase. The materials were developed by a team of researchers led by Marlene S. Stum, Ph.D., a Professor and Extension Specialist in the University’s Family Social Science Department.

A recent New York Times article about the project also mentions a program called FairSplit, which is designed to help parties amicably divide property in both estate and divorce situations. It allows an executor to inventory belongings and share the information online with heirs in order to seek agreement over how to divide things (or for a testator to proactively do this as part of the estate planning or downsizing process).

To make it easier to leave smaller items to various people without having to sign a new will, RCW 11.12.260 allows a testator in Washington to execute a separate writing bequeathing items of tangible personal property. To be effective, the will (or a trust which becomes irrevocable upon or before the testator’s death) must contain a clause permitting it; the separate writing must be in the handwriting of, or signed by, the testator; and it must describe the items and intended recipients with reasonable certainty. If these requirements are met, the writing is binding as if it were actually contained in the will or trust itself, except that Washington’s anti-lapse statute will not apply if the designated recipient dies before the testator.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (425) 455-5513, toll free at (877) 455-5513, or

Local: (425) 455-5513
Toll Free: (877) 455-5513
Fax: (425) 455-5546
Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056