What is a personal chattel?

Have you ever wondered about what some of those legal terms actually mean? The term personal chattel is widely used in will drafting but I bet you don't know what it is!


The term is defined at s55(1)x of the Administration of Estates Act 1925. Back then the definition consisted of carriages, horses, plated articles, linen, musical or scientific instruments, apparatus, wines, liquors and consumable stores - whatever that is!!


I don't believe that many of us now have horses and carriages but we do have cars, motorbikes, bedding, kids toys, computers and IT kit instead. Personal chattels are your possessions. They are the contents of your home, furniture, paintings, photographs and jewellery.


To help with interpretation this original 1925 definition was updated in the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act of 2014 to be tangible, moveable property but not money or securities for money, property used by the deceased at his death solely or mainly for business purposes and property held by the deceased at death for investment purposes. That's much better isn't it!


You can give your personal items away as you wish, to whomever you choose. You can put a big long list of items in your will that you want to give to specific people. But what happens if you fall out or break the item give? It is much easier to put a clause in your will that leaves all you personal things to your executors to distribute as you instruct them in writing or verbally. This is a much better method of dealing with your personal items and gives you flexibility to change your mind or remove things if you have disposed of the item.


The drafting of wills is never straightforward and you should always take expert advice about what you do. You really do not want to fall foul of a drafting error which could cause significant problems in the future. After all, if you live in a park home, mobile home or static caravan do you know if it is considered to be a personal chattel or a property??


Give us a call if you need to prepare your will and let us help you do it properly.





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