In your will, you can choose who will receive both your real property and your personal property when you die. Real property includes land and buildings, and personal property includes every other tangible thing you own, such as your car and household goods. If you wish to avoid probate, there are also ways to hold property jointly with another person so that it is not covered by your will.
The first step in including property in your last will and testament is to make an inventory of your property. An inventory may include things like your real estate, car, furniture and jewelry, as well as any intangible assets you own -- bank accounts or intellectual property like a copyright or trademark, for example. Without an inventory, you may accidentally leave some property out of your will. Any property not covered by your will may be given away according to state law, notes the American Bar Association.
Real property is also known as real estate. It usually includes both the land itself and any buildings or other improvements on it. In order to include real property in your will, you need to know how the property is held, according to FindLaw. For instance, do you have a joint tenancy with your spouse, or a tenancy in common with one or more people? Do you have a mortgage, and if so, how much equity do you have in the property? An attorney who practices estate law in your state can help you figure out how you hold each piece of real estate you own and whether or not you can include it in your will.
Non-Probate Real Property
Some types of real estate are owned in such a way that if you die, the property will pass directly to another person or business. This type of property is known as non-probate property, because the probate court does not direct what happens to it, according to the American Bar Association. Real property held in joint tenancy with your spouse, for instance, will go directly to your spouse when you die. Likewise, if you have a tenancy in common with one or more other people, that property will go to the other owners when you die, regardless of whether you say anything about it in your will. Setting up a non-probate arrangement can help ensure your beneficiaries receive your real estate when you die, according to Financial Web.
You can include nearly all of your personal property in your will, especially tangible assets like your car, household furniture and personal items, according to the American Bar Association. When leaving these items to specific people, list the person's full name and address, if possible, in order to avoid confusing the probate court. Also name the item of property as precisely as possible to avoid confusion. For instance, if you have more than one car, list the make, model and year in your will instead of just writing "my car," so that the probate court will be clear on which car you mean.