Collecting Assets as a Trustee – Personal Property with the Title

So, you’ve been entrusted with the task of collecting assets on behalf of a trust. As an officer of the court, you will want to make sure that you discharge this duty by collecting personal property with the title.

First, let’s define personal property.

As a trustee, you have the responsibility of collecting personal property on behalf of the trust. The definition for “personal property is moveable items: tables, chairs, jewelry, tools, even larger things like vehicles and trailers.” It’s your job to locate and secure them as well as take pictures, if necessary, before moving them safely to storage or another location that will be known by all parties involved in this process.

Personal property is the most likely category where people tend to help themselves, and these people could not necessarily be family or beneficiaries; they could be neighbors, even strangers! At the same time, make sure you’re securing your own personal property, and that insurance is up to date.

Once you have acquired all the property, check the status of the title, AKA pink slip. Who owns the property on the pink slip? Does the trustee own it, or does the decedent own it? If the decedent had it individually, then it passes through their will unless an exception applies.

What are the exceptions?

The first exception is through a personal property memorandum. A personal property memorandum allows a person to dedicate personal property items to a beneficiary as long as it’s small and not expensive, typically less than five thousand dollars.

Another exception is if they’ve hard drafted into the will a provision called a specific gift, which functions much the same as the personal property memorandum, but on a much larger scale. It is not limited to five thousand dollars.

If there are two names on the pink slip, the third exception is called a jointly held asset. A jointly held asset passes to the joint owner, does not go through your will, and does not go through the trust. It goes directly to the joint owner.

Being a trustee can sometimes seem overwhelming, but by taking advantage of our Trust 101 Series, you’ll better understand what the expectations are.

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