A Gift of “Personal Property” Means all but Real Estate

Robert Ray

A will left some specific items to individuals, left “all household and personal property” to Vargas then left a residuary clause. The estate consisted of about $290,00 in bank accounts, stocks, cars and household furnishings.

Vargas contended that she received everything except the specific gifts and that the only thing that passed by the residuary clause was some real estate.

Problem

Was the gift of “all my remaining household and personal property” limited by the term household? Or did it include all money as well?

Answer:

 In a will, an unqualified reference to “property” encompasses everything of exchangeable value that the testator owned, including real and personal property whether tangible or intangible.

“Personal property,” in contrast, excludes real property but otherwise remains broad in definition, including everything other than real property that is subject to ownership.

We reject Mitchell and Vasquez’s argument that Hunt’s combined bequest of household and personal property limits the latter category to tangible items. Hunt bequeathed “all of my remaining household and personal property” to Vargas. Mitchell and Vasquez’s proposed interpretation disregards Hunt’s use of the word “all,” which is incompatible with the limited conveyance of a subset of her personal property. 

“all personal property” means all, tangible and intangible.

In re Estate of Debra A. Hunt, 01-19-00216-CV, (Tex. App. – Houston[1st] Feb. 6, 2020 no pet. h.).

Ruling

  Hunt’s bequest of “all of my remaining household and personal property” is unambiguous—it conveys to Vargas all of Hunt’s personal property other than the family-related items that she gave to Mitchell.

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The Author

Robert Ray

Robert Ray handles inheritance disputes of all kinds. He takes cases throughout Texas.
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