Can person give away things before death if they fear that their wishes won’t befollowed?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can person give away things before death if they fear that their wishes won’t befollowed?

My mom’s Will does not specify that she wants everybody to have what they want before it sells. She is going on her wishes being told to executor of Will. He is not going to follow her wishes and is going to sell everything. Can she give away the things she wants to go to certain people before she dies? Can she add a codicil to her Will to specify that she wants family to have her things rather than be sold?

Asked on January 13, 2018 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

She can do either:
1) A will does NOT control what a person does with her belongings pre-death. Rather, a will should be read as "IF I still own the following when I die"--it expresses what happens if the testator (person making the will) doesn't give away, sell, lose, trade, etc. items before she dies. Your mother may give any of her belongings to anyone she chooses while alive.
2) A will can direct that certain objects be given to certain people, rather than being sold, so your mother could amend or revise the will do to this. She just needs to make sure that the amendment, codicil, revised will, etc. is signed and witnesses the way a will must be.

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