When you make your will, you plan what each person will receive at your death. While you may know what you want to do with the main part of your estate when you see a lawyer about writing a will, you may not have decided how you would want certain items of your tangible personal property such as your jewelry, furniture, tools, household goods and personal effects or certain precious memorabilia to go, or you realize that you may change your mind about these things over time as your circumstances or desires or the ages and circumstances of your loved ones change.
Recognizing this, the Virginia legislature passed a law that lets you use a separate written and signed list and change it from time to time as you wish. In that way you do not have to list all your tangible personal property in your will, and you can change the list whenever you want to without changing your will. This applies only to tangible personal property and not to money or investments. In other words, if you want to change who receives the monetary items, you must change your will. If you want to change who receives the specific items of tangible personal property on your list you need only change the list.
It is important to remember that you do need to make a will. Just because you promise to give a child or someone you love your ring or your watch or certain pieces of furniture when you die, that verbal promise does not have any legal effect, and you must provide for the gift in a properly executed will or have a provision in your will that refers to your leaving a list signed by you stating who is to receive tangible personal property.
If you make a list, you do not have to include everything on the list – just tangible things that you want to name specifically for certain people. Other things can just pass generally under your will to whomever your will designates to receive your tangible personal property, without specific items being listed.