I have written several articles and given presentations on the importance of getting your affairs in order for your loved ones prior to your death. In fact, I created a flash drive called My Affairs in Order that allows you to record financial and personal information for your family.
Pretty much all my articles and discussions have focused on the important procedures that need to be undertaken prior to your passing, such as creating a will, implementing a trust and preparing powers of attorney and medical directives.
One area of significance in the planning phase that I believe is often forgotten or over-looked is what is to become of our collectibles and heirlooms?
De-Clutter and Downsize
As Baby Boomers begin the process of de-cluttering and down-sizing, they are attempting to give their prized possessions to their offspring. What they are finding is that the younger generation is not interested. Millennials, in general, do not want lifestyle trappings. They are more disposal and transient, living in cities instead of suburbs or rural areas and rent small apartments instead of buying homes. They want to be able to move easily from city to city to find their perfect job, which means having fussy collectibles and large clunky furniture is not their thing.
The younger generation lives their lives digitally through social media. They store their memories on a computer and don’t need to hoard boxes of pictures, greeting cards, baby clothes, etc. Most don’t even want the school memorabilia that you have so carefully boxed and saved for them.
Discuss Disposal of Collectibles with Family
Even though priorities of the generations have changed, there may still be family members who want specific heirlooms and/or collectibles. Be sure to discuss the disposal of any items you value with your family members to determine if there is an interest.
Don’t be offended if no one wants those Hummel porcelain figurines you spent years and hundreds of dollars collecting. Rejection can be tough, but remember you don’t want to burden your children with items they don’t want. Everyone has different tastes and your children should be allowed to decide what they want, just as you were able to decide that you wanted to collect those Hummel figurines.
Consider Selling Options When Downsizing
Once you know what items other family members want, take an inventory of what is left and divide the remainder into groups of items that you could offer to friends, donate, throw away or attempt to sell. For those items you decide to sell, be aware that your precious heirlooms and collectibles may sell at a much lower price than what you think they are worth, or not at all.
Collectibles, such as those Hummel figurines mentioned earlier, used to be worth $300 to $400 each, but now sell in groups of four or five for $50. The antique market (items over 100 years old) has also been hit hard since the recession. Antique stores are inundated with Baby Boomer’s castaways and the generation that is buying and/or collecting antiques, is also the one that is selling them.
Plan Now for the Disposal of Precious Items
The one thing I try to emphasize to people is that it’s important to be as prepared as possible for your death so that you don’t leave a burden for your loved ones. Having everything in order will makes things easier for loved ones in an already trying time.
Most individuals understand the concept, but stop the planning process at the large assets and forget about all those small items collecting dust. So, as part of your planning process, start now in disposing of all unwanted collectibles so that your family won’t have to deal with them when you are gone.