Personal Effects

The executor should do his/her best to “lock down” the personal assets

Technically, all household goods, collectibles, tools, vehicles, etc. form part of the estate and should not be distributed outside of probate. However, in practice, many of these items are acquired by the beneficiaries and/or executor very quickly after the death so the items don’t go through probate.

The big problem is that often times, there is all sorts of allegations against the executor or beneficiaries for “cleaning out the house”, which allegations develop a lack of trust amongst the potential beneficiaries and the executor fueling litigation and hatred.  The interesting point is that if one was to conduct an estate sale, all these personal items would generate very little value to the average consumer.

The executor should do his/her best to “lock down” the personal assets and the house upon death to ensure that individuals do not take items of the deceased justifying the action based on what the deceased may or may not have done through his/her lifetime including promising the item to the particular individual. If the gift is not in the Will as a specific bequest then it is not something that a particular individual should receive, short of agreement by the various beneficiaries.

If there are any vehicles in the name of the deceased, then they have to be transferred through probate. That is, the vehicle needs to be put in the name of the executor who then can sell it because otherwise there’s no legal ability to sign off on a transfer agreement that’s required by ICBC. The same applies for any registered chattel.

In summary, personal effects tend to create the most animosity between the executor and the beneficiaries simply because many items seem to disappear very shortly after the death.

Assets Subject to a Wills Variation Claim

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