by: Begley Law Group

by Thomas D. Begley, Jr., Esquire, CELA

The New Jersey Probate law permits the use of a separate writing or memorandum to dispose of your tangible personal property.  If you wish to use such a writing or memorandum rather than itemize various items of tangible personal property in your Will, you should know and follow the requirements that are specifically set out in the law:

The law specifically sets out the types of tangible personal property that are not and that are permitted to be disposed of by a separate writing or memorandum.

Tangible personal property not permitted to be disposed of by separate writing or memorandum is money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title, stocks, bonds, securities, property used in a trade or business, and other tangible personal property specifically disposed of by your Will.  All other types of tangible personal property, such as jewelry, silverware, antiques, stamp collections, china, glassware, furniture and furnishings, and other items of tangible personal property, are permitted to be disposed of by separate writing or memorandum.

Other requirements in order to use a separate writing or memorandum are:

  1. The memorandum or list must be in your handwriting and should be signed and dated by you, or if typed or not in your handwriting, the memorandum or list must be dated and signed by you.Your signature need not be witnessed.
  2. The memorandum or list must describe clearly each item so that a particular item will not be confused with any other similar item.
  3. Your Will must refer specifically to your disposing of tangible personal property by a separate memorandum or list.
  4. The memorandum or list may be completed prior to the date of signing of your Will or at a date after the signing of your Will.
  5. The memorandum or list, to be effective, must be in existence at the date of your death.
  6. The memorandum or list does not apply and will not be effective to transfer money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title, securities, stocks, bonds, and property used in a trade or business.
  7. The items of tangible personal property disposed of by the memorandum or list should not be those items specifically disposed of by your Will.
  8. You should identify clearly the beneficiary who is to receive each item by his or her proper name and relationship to you.If the beneficiary is not in the area, you should list his or her address.
  9. Consideration should be given to naming an alternate beneficiary should the first beneficiary not survive to receive the property.
  10. From time to time, you may change the beneficiaries or the items listed in the memorandum, and you may also revise or revoke the entire memorandum. However, NEVER make changes by marking or altering a signed memorandum, handwritten or typed. Changes should be made only by a new handwritten or typed memorandum and by signed and dating the new memorandum.  After signing the new memorandum, the old memorandum should be destroyed.





My Will, executed January 15, 2021, gives my personal and household effects in accordance with a list or memorandum, and I hereby make this writing for that purpose and to comply with the provisions of New Jersey law, as amended.


DESCRIPTION OF ITEM OF                                   BENEFICIARY



  1. My eighteen (18) karat gold wedding             my daughter, SUSAN DOE

band inscribed with my wedding date


  1. My eighteen (18) inch strand of                         my daughter, SUSAN DOE

6 millimeter cultured pearls with

sterling silver clasp


  1. My black Steinway concert grand my son, JOHN DOE, JR.



  1. My antique Danish Grandfather                        my son, JOHN DOE, JR.

Clock, Circa 1786


  1. My set of four (4) Spode Christmasmy daughter-in-law,

coffee mugs                                                                ANGELA DOE


  1. My eighteen (18) karat gold-plated                        my good friend,

Heuer scuba diving watch with                                  RICHARD KANE of

rotating bezel                                                              7 Anywhere Drive, Anytown, NJ


  1. My two (2) mahogany end tables, withmy good friend, ANN

white marble tops and gilt edges                                BORG, of 21 Anywhere Drive,

Anytown, NJ


If any named beneficiaries of a particular gift do not survive me, such gift shall lapse and pass as otherwise provided in Section 2 of my Will.


Dated:  January 15, 2021                                                        ______________________________