Personal property and heirlooms — we spend a lifetime accumulating them, inheriting them, caring for them, collecting them, and talking about them. But we rarely know the values and we rarely make a plan for what happens to our personal property.
Here’s my list of the biggest mistakes. Hopefully, you don’t see yourself in this list.
1. Parents don’t share final wishes with their children. They don’t share vital documents, especially the will/trust, or at least tell the children where they are located.
Children are then left to guess the parent’s wishes, which is a very bad thing. Children live with guilt for the remainder of their lives, wondering if their “guess” was what mom and dad would have wanted. What a heavy load to carry!
2. Parents don’t make a plan for personal property. They don’t create a master list, or ask what the heirs would like to have. They definitely don’t gift any of their possessions while they are still alive.
3. Parents know that death and infirmity will certainly come, but they do nothing to anticipate or minimize fighting after they are gone.
4. Children have opposite opinions because the parents didn’t tell their wishes to the children. This starts fights and feuds that can last for the remainder of their lives.
5. Children are hasty with parents’ possessions. Heirlooms with significant value can end up in a dumpster or yard sale. They decline to hire a professional to ascertain what’s valuable before distribution and disposal.
6. Chilren have a tendency to give away, throw away, or donate before they know the worth of those items. Be leary of unscrupulous people who ask for a “memento” and go for the most valuable item, which you may or may not have valuated.
Did you see yourself in this list? If so, now is the time to take action and resolve these issues. As I’ve said before, you don’t want to become one of The Estate Lady’s sad stories!
© 2010 Julie Hall