Personal Possessions and Chattels in a Will

Published / Last Updated on 24/05/2022

When making a Will, many people make financial property and money gifts to not only spouses and partners but also to children, other family members, friends, and charities.

This is normal for larger ticket items such as property, money and specific items of jewellery and artwork. 

But what about all your other possessions? 

Your bed, your clothes, your washing machine, your vases, your pictures, your collection, that special watch or pen, your car, and your laptop?  These are your personal possessions, perhaps less important items and if you had to name every item that you own in your will, you might be there for some time.

The Administration of Estates Act 1925 as amended by the Inheritance and Trustee Powers Act 2014 make provision for you to include an ‘expression of wishes’ in your will for your personal possessions as a collective gift.  They are known collectively as your ‘Personal Possessions and Chattels’.

Rather than loved ones or others arguing over who inherits your laptop or car, and to avoid the heartache and dispute of say Child 1 wanting to keep your car and Child 2 wanting that special picture, as well as avoiding any legal disputes, you can entrust your personal possessions and chattels to perhaps one or two close people and they can then distribute your chattels as they see fit or indeed if you had actually Child 1 above your special picture and Child 2 your car, i.e.  they would have preferred it the other way around.  The use of a chattels clause means that personal possessions can be distributed amongst family and friends without any disruption or heartache.  You know the type of thing:  “Here are mum’s five rings, which one would you like?”

The law defined personal possessions and chattels as “All tangible moveable property”.  This literally means all that you own, not otherwise included in your will that is touchable and is mobile i.e., can be moved.  By way of example, your refrigerator is moveable, so is a chattel but your radiators are not.

Examples of Personal Possessions and Chattels (tangible and moveable)

Not Chattels (usually fixed and not moveable)

Household contents

House and other properties


Money and securities for money

Jewellery plus (Jewellery items valued at more than £500*)

Business Assets







Cars, boats, and aircraft*


*These items must also be included in a separate list, with professional valuations for HMRC inheritance tax return forms.

Valuation: Remember, the valuation must be the current market value of the items and not the insurance replacement value.  For jewellery, this can be significantly different.  What you would pay for a 2nd hand diamond ring will be much cheaper than if you lost a ring and had to buy an exact replacement ring under an insurance claim.

There are ways that you can use Personal Possessions and Chattels as part of an inheritance tax reduction plan.  See video 2 and 3 in this Chattels series.

WATCH:  Ways to Save Inheritance Tax With Chattels and Personal Possessions:

Gifting, Gains Tax and 5/3rds Rule - Gifting Chattels  Gifting Possessions But Keep At Home - Keep Gifted Chattels

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