Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Article: 'A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words' – The Viability of Inserting Descriptive Photos in Wills

Gerry Beyer (Texas Tech University School of Law) and Scout Blosser (Texas Tech University School of Law) recently published an Article titled, ‘A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words’— The Viability of Inserting Descriptive Photos in Wills, Estate Planning Developments for Texas Professionals, May 2023. Provided below is an abstract to the Article:

Specific testamentary gifts are a very important component of a will. They help clients pass important family heirlooms as well as transfer assets of high value. However, a specific gift can invoke a complicated and tedious process for the estate planner and for executors. Specific gifts of tangible personal property require precise descriptions with sufficient detail so that a person completely unfamiliar with the testator’s property may determine exactly what property is being gifted.

The necessity for specific detail is enhanced when gifts of similar nature are being gifted to multiple beneficiaries. For example, assume a client has ten rings she wishes to give them to ten different grandchildren. Each ring would require a description with sufficient specificity to ensure that the executor transfers the correct ring to the correct grandchild.

Traditionally, the estate planner needs to include lengthy and tediously drafted descriptions in the will. However, could an estate planner alleviate the uncertainty surrounding specific gift descriptions through the insertion of photographs of the property being described? An insertion of a photograph of the item, coupled with the description, would provide an additional layer of assurance to the testator that the gift will take effect as intended.


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