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  • What are Chattels?

    What are Chattels?

    We talk about leaving our ‘chattels’ to someone when we die, but what does the term actually mean?

    Until recently, ‘personal chattels’ was defined as ‘carriages, horses, stable furniture and effects, motor cars and accessories, garden effects, domestic animals, plate, plated articles, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, furniture, jewellery, articles of house or personal use

    or ornament, musical or scientific instruments and apparatus, wines, liquors and consumable stores, but do not include any chattels used at the death of the intestate person for business purposes, nor money or securities for money’.

    This definition dates back almost 100 years (The Administration of Estates Act 1925) and relates to a person dying intestate, but the term was commonly used in Wills. However, on 1 October 2014 (Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014) this definition has been updated and changed to:

    ‘Tangible moveable property but not money or securities for money, property used by the deceased at his death solely or mainly for business purposes or property held by the deceased at death solely as an investment.’

    One of the important changes is that any item held solely as an investment is specifically excluded. So, for example, wine collections held as an investment are not personal chattels, but a piece of art which is displayed and enjoyed would be.

    To avoid any dispute or ambiguity, it is always advisable to specifically mention items of value and the person(s) they are to be left to. A full description, including the location of the items and photographs of them can be included to assist the Executors to identify each item.


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    Julie McDonald Family Law is the trading name of JM Family Law Limited. JM Family Law Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales [registered number 12606147].
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