A common question asked by clients preparing their Wills is how to dispose of tangible personal property upon death. For example, I am asked, "I have jewelry and a coin collection, do I need to specify how those items are distributed among my children upon my death or can I simply tell the children my wishes?"
Virginia law allows you to transfer tangible personal property upon your death without describing the items specifically in your Will. Provided the appropriate set-up language is in your Will, you can dispose of tangible personal property, such as jewelry, artwork, collectibles, etc., in a letter that is merely signed and dated. The advantage of the side letter is that it can be changed without the formality of re-executing the Will. Non-Virginia residents need to check their state to see if there is a similar provision.
Attached is a sample side letter under Virginia law.