Think Before You Throw!

Do it for the earth, do it for extra space, and do it for your pocket!

Donating, recycling, and selling are the way to go when downsizing or handling an estate.  Selling will provide cash for your unwanted items, especially if you have a professional help you.  Donating can also provide a tax deduction or help a worthy cause.  Use your imagination when deciding where things could go, other than black trash bags!  Can someone use your items in some form or fashion?  This is the ultimate in recycling.

Remember the following when faced with thinning out your home’s contents or when you may not have enough for an estate sale:

  • Have the neighbors in for free household chemicals, garden/yard tools, etc.
  • Create a donation network by discussing what you have to give.
  • Keep watch for charity drives in your community.
  • Web search for places to sell or donate items.
  • Gazelle.com, techforward.com, and others offer varying compensation for electronics.
  • You can recycle computers at Good Will or Geek Squad.
  • Paper, cardboard, and scrap metal are commodities that are traded.  Find a buyer locally.  Sites like boxcycle.com and usedcardboardboxes.com pay cash for boxes.
  • Scrap metal and other household metals, photo frames, etc. are wanted by artists.  If you take scrap metal to the right place, you can end up with some $$ in your wallet.
  • Charities are in a funding crisis.  Paper, books, games and toys help daycares, senior centers, and after-school programs.  Give them a call; they are happy to give you a wish list.
  • Alzheimer’s facilities are always looking for clean linens, towels, nice dolls, stuffed bears, etc.
  • Many religious organizations/groups set up homes for refugees, domestic abuse victims, disabled adults, etc.  They need many everyday items and toiletries that you no longer need.
  • Old sheets and towels, leashes, and pet bowls are very much needed by local pet shelters.
  • Check with local drama programs (high school, college) for their wish list.  Some will welcome “vintage” clothing and accessories, and even paints and fabrics for prop and set design.
  • Inventory the home before buying materials.  Garbage bags, boxes, and cleaning supplies are normally already in the house.

Remember, one person’s trash is another man’s treasure!

With my prediction of millions of households being liquidated in the next few decades, the very thought of the amount of trash the U.S. will generate is mind-boggling.  Do your part to help others and the environment too!

What other resources do you know about in your area for donating, selling, and recycling?  Feel free to share ideas in the comment section below.

©2016 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

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Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 10:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Just in Time for Christmas

You know how passionate I am about helping people deal with their stuff or a family member’s estate.  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you have seen me talk about tips, options, and solutions based on decades of experience.

I decided to take my best knowledge and pack it all into a new book, “What am I Going to Do With All My STUFF?”  This book gives you step-by-step direction and best practices for the downsizing process.

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When you have no idea where to begin, I give you the resources and brain of an expert,  including the pros and cons of each possible option, for making solid decisions when it is time to simplify or downsize your personal property.

Based on 25 years of my experience and insider know-how, this book will give you all the following:

  • Where do you begin?
  • Understand value and the characteristics of value
  • How to thin out the house one room at a time
  • Determine your options for selling: Pros and Cons
  • Handle large collections and items of value
  • Determine what to keep, sell, donate and discard
  • Overcome potential obstacles and factors that hinder the process
  • Find professional help you can trust
  • Avoid the mistakes people make
  • Make peace with letting go

It’s available online at Amazon.com in e-book and paperback formats.  Here’s a quick link to the e-book: E-book purchase

Here’s what one reviewer says about the book:

Overall, if you are facing the task of cleaning out a deceased loved one’s home or are simply trying to downsize the clutter you have in your home, this is definitely the book for you. Ms. Hall is very clear and concise with her suggestions and methods, and in the end, you will feel accomplished and at peace with a job well done.

Here are another reviewer’s observations:

Though Hall notes that the target audience of this book are baby boomers, I feel that adults of all ages will benefit. She gives you a plan on how and where to start the process of shedding material possessions.

I am writing this review on Black Friday as the media keeps telling us to buy more “stuff”. Instead I’ll remember Julie Hall’s advice, “Give to those who are really in need. That item that you ‘might need one day’ is needed every day by someone else.”

Actually What Am I Going To Do With All My STUFF? will  make the prefect gift for the holidays. I think my husband, mom, kids (who are in their 20’s), and many friends will benefit from this book.

I am passionate about educating people, so I’m proud to present this project to you, my readers.  Best regards as you let go and simplify your stuff.  Here’s to a 2016 with less clutter and more calm!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

Letting Go of Our Possessions is Hard

Most of us enjoy hearing the words, “Till death do us part,” during a wedding ceremony, where the new couple is floating in bliss and envision being by each other’s side until death separates them.  From my perspective, I see people who have a very passionate relationship with their material possessions, sometimes more so than with each other.  It almost appears that they believe they can take their possessions with them when they leave earth.

For over two decades, I have tried to figure out why people have such a difficult time letting go.  Often it’s the Depression Era generation that has accumulated the most stuff.  Their parents did not have much and probably possessed mostly utilitarian items during that era.  The Depression Era generation absorbed what their parents owned.  The Boomers have much more stuff to deal with, but they have only so much space to keep things.

Here are some thoughts on why people hold on to so much.  Where do you see yourself in these thoughts?

  • You just never know when I’m going to need this.
  • There are so many uses for this possession.
  • If I hold onto it long enough, it will become valuable.
  • It is already old, so it must be valuable.
  • I did without as a child; I will not do without again.
  • It was a gift and I will honor the giver by keeping it.
  • The more I leave the kids, the more they will have.
  • I worked very hard for these things and I will pass them down.
  • The things bring comfort and familiarity.
  • All these things make me feel close to my parents.
  • My children will feel loved by me when I’m gone, because I left them all these things.
  • I’m too overwhelmed to let it go (emotional attachment).
  • I’ll let the kids deal with the stuff after I’m gone.

Here’s the part where I try to put my clients at ease.  When in doubt, always have the contents of an estate viewed by a true professional prior to distributing or selling contents.  Most times, the heirs are not surprised to learn that much of what mom and dad amassed doesn’t have much value.  Some children feel the stuff may be “junk” and are pleasantly surprised to find that some pieces have significant value.  Family stories through the years can add to the anticipation that grandfather’s chair is valuable because it is old.  Yet, we know age is not the only determining factor of true value.

For every reason listed above, there is a counter-reason to let it go.

  • Many of your heirs won’t take as much as you would like to give them.
  • Boomer children already have houses full of stuff; adding more will only fuel marital strife.
  • Your younger generations appear to want very little but cash assets.
  • Leaving a huge burden for your children should not be your legacy.
  • Much of your stuff will be out of style and not genuinely desired by your heirs.
  • Your heirs may have different lifestyles and your stuff won’t fit those styles.
  • Many are trying to simplify their own lives, not add more stuff to clean and hold.
  • If you sell your stuff now, you can purchase other things you would truly enjoy.
  • These items were treasured by someone else, but not you and not now.

Holding on to possessions, for the sake of not wanting to let them go, can leave a negative impact on those left behind.  Gifting valuable items now is a beautiful way to pass along your treasures and watch your heirs enjoy them.  Making plans for the distribution of your possessions, while you are still in control of these decisions, is the best plan of action.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

You’d Better Sit Down!

I can’t stress this enough, though I feel like a nag for repeating it often:

A majority of the time, your possessions are not worth what you think they are worth.

My phone rings each day with dozens of calls.  But the calls that always make me pause and take a deep breath are those that start telling me what their possessions, or inherited heirlooms, are worth.  In fact, a recent client had a great deal of difficulty hearing the real values of her mother’s possessions.  I was afraid she would pass out, so I said, “You’d better sit down!”

Allow me to say this where all can see it clearly, in hope of helping as many as possible.

  1.  Internet research of items may be completely useless.  Many items are not researched correctly, because the average person may not know the correct name or description for the items being researched.
  2. The internet is only a good tool if you properly search for realized prices, not asking prices.  Realized prices are what an item sold for.  That’s the only figure used to determine fair market value.  Someone can ask the sun and the moon for an item; the asking prices on websites are insanely high.  One is left to think those items will NEVER be sold at that price in this market.
  3. People hear what they want to hear.  Many do not listen, even to an expert.  They see a “price” on the internet for $650 and by golly, that’s what their item is worth.  No, it’s not!  This particular item may actually be selling for $75, making the fair market value $75, not the figure they saw.  Sadly, some people are so anchored to their possessions they will not heed the sound judgment of professionals who do this every single day.
  4. Family lore: “The fish you caught was HOW BIG?”  All our parents told us for decades that certain pieces were “extremely old and valuable.”  Remember, until a professional examines them, conclude that the pieces were cherished by your parents/grandparents, but still may not be worth much.  Keep your expectations in neutral.  Most of the time, these pieces have more sentimental value than actual value.
  5. The price paid for an item has nothing to do with its value in today’s market.  “I paid $5,000 for that.”  It doesn’t matter.  What does matter is:
    1. It is a used item.
    2. It may no longer be in style.
    3. It may not even be desirable, especially if it’s dark brown or very large (both are out of favor now).
    4. No one really wants it.

 Try to remember these things brought you or your loved one pleasure.  In today’s soft market, there is no way you’ll get thousands of dollars from selling them.

6.  Mom collected these for 50 years but they are still not valuable now.  We grew up with our mothers drilling into our heads just how valuable her items are, and yes, they were desirable at that time.  In the 21st century, homes are desperately wanting to be clutter-free.  The younger generations no longer want to crowd furniture surfaces with framed photos, figurines, and paperweights.  Boomers are getting rid of these items, hoping to live a simpler life.

The solution to all these problems, and many more, is to find an expert who understands these possessions and the best way to sell them, based on what they know about the market.  Always get professional estate assistance before you do anything.  Try to be as realistic as possible.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

Stretched to the Limit

KNOW THE FEELING?

It’s not difficult to look around and see that many of us are surviving by the skin of our teeth.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Life is much more challenging in many aspects than it used to be, yet somehow we all seem to think it’s easier with our electronic gadgets close in-hand.

With the onset of technology, such as smart homes, smart electronics, iPhones, latest and greatest cars, etc., shouldn’t our lives be easier?  The cars are getting to the point of not even needing a driver (sooner than you think), our appliances do all the work for us, and our social media makes the world a much smaller place.  So why aren’t we more rested?

These things enable us to do more in a given day, but our days are just getting busier, not easier.  Because gadgets break and malfunction, dishes still need to be put in cabinets when clean, and human interaction and input is required at every turn, it’s no wonder we are exhausted, distracted, and as a result, sometimes unproductive.  But, we still beat ourselves up because we aren’t accomplishing enough!  That’s a tiring cycle too!

I have my theories that many of us have become “attached” in some way to the craziness.  My own teenage daughter nearly floored me the other day by simply announcing,

“I wish I grew up in your day, mom, when things were simpler.  Technology has made life much harder.  We don’t even have books anymore; most of my “books” are online.  I don’t like that.”

Imagine that coming from a young adult!  I explained that every generation meets with it’s own challenges and difficulties.  We had trouble back in the day, as well, but not like today where we are all traveling at warp speed, breaking our necks to get things done in a tizzy, and often the quality lacks because we aren’t taking our time to perfect anything.  What a shame!

Maybe I am slowing down a little because I am aging a bit.

Maybe I am slowing down to recharge my batteries.

It has become painfully clear to me, and even in watching some of my family, friends, and clients, that we are all carrying heavy bags, uphill, every day.  It seems most of the actions and decisions we make are often driven by money, because money is important in this life; we have to make money to pay bills, our debts, etc.

But at the end of the day, or when we are in the car driving, do we really have to check our texts, as though the world would stop if we didn’t respond?  Can we just enjoy some music or our own thoughts for a little while?  Unplugging for a little time each day may be a very good thing.

We deserve a rest.

It took me awhile, but I have made a decision that was not easy to come by; I’m not checking the phone past 5:00 pm. unless it is urgent.  I will continue to help as many as I can during the day, while in the office, from the office phone and email, out in the field, etc., which I am always happy to do.  But my spirit ( and I am betting, yours) is in need of a bit of renewal and restoration.

No one will give me a break, but me

I guess I better start with the lady in the mirror.

How about you?

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 10:25 am  Comments (4)  
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“I’ll Get to it One Day!”

While the sentiment is a good one, we all know human nature a little too well.  The trouble is, “one day” rarely comes.

  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • I’ll get to that later.
  • I’ll look into that in the new year.
  • It’s not a priority right now.

It’s fascinating what we professionals notice in estates.  We see a distinct similarity in almost all of the estates we go into, especially if the estate belonged to an elderly loved one from the Depression Era.  The attics are usually full; interesting that 85% of them are full of things that really should have been disposed of 30+ years ago.

By the time we get into these attics to clear them out, the books are rotted and have been gnawed on, anything cardboard has pretty much disintegrated, clothing either smells like mildew or falls apart in our hands, or we find items that have long since been obsolete and no one has any use for them.  If items of value were stored in the attic, which is a big no-no, chances are good they have been damaged and the value greatly diminished.  This is not always the case, but generally what we find.  On very rare occasions, we find treasures hidden up there too, but they have been long forgotten and the family most likely was never told about them.

My assistant has a saying when we are working in the daunting attics, up to our elbows in stuff:

“They were young when they put this stuff up here.  By the time they finally figure out it has to be dealt with, they are elderly and can’t get up here anymore.  That’s how long this stuff has been sitting around and most of it is being discarded.  With all this paper up here, it’s a miracle the house didn’t go up like a match.”

This is accurate on many levels.  Time stops for no one.  We all have the best intentions of cleaning out the shed, garage, closets, cupboards.  But if you continue to procrastinate and something happens where you or your loved one is incapacitated, it truly leaves a burden for the ones you leave behind.  A bigger burden than you realize.

If you have had your sights on a project around the house which includes clearing out some stuff, make sure you know what it is worth before you sell it or give it away.  It is better to clear out the clutter now, so you can feel better and not worry later.  We all could probably come up with numerous excuses.  With spring coming, it’s time to just do it!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

In Search of Sanity

I have a theory that people subconsciously believe their stuff will anchor them to this world.  They fill their homes with “treasures” as a sign of success; they “made it” in this life, in contrast to their parents who didn’t have much during the Depression.  They amass things out of fear, fear they will have to go without.  They may hold on to stuff out of guilt.  Finally, they may feel they are doing their children a favor by leaving them so many “valuable” things.

At some point, all this stuff becomes a proverbial monkey on someone’s back.  Someone will pull their hair out and cling to sanity trying to understand the estate settlement process.

I find it so interesting that people spend a lifetime collecting stuff, buying stuff, inheriting stuff, fighting over it, displaying it, talking about it … but they rarely make a plan for it.

Collections are one example.  Everybody collects something.  It’s exciting when you find a special piece you’ve been seeking for years.  When the word gets out that you collect cats, suddenly everyone buys you cats.  Metal, porcelain, glass, pottery … it doesn’t matter.  You get tons of cats whether you want them or not.  Next thing you know, you have 200 cats!

Let us not forget that we inherit items along the way, tripling (or more) what we already have.  Soon, our homes are bursting at the seams, our spouses are griping because of all the clutter, and our children let us know in no uncertain terms that they want nothing other than a ride to IKEA and cash, so they can buy what they want.

Every day, I am in multiple estates and I see all of our accumulations.  Some houses are neat and tidy, but the closets are bursting at the seams!  Things are strategically hidden!  Other homes are eclectic and interesting from world travels.  Still others are hoarders, thinking every possession is valuable, and they will not listen to the reasoning of a professional such as myself.

I can say with 100% certainty that we’re facing a major problem in this country as our seniors and boomers age and pass away.  Plain and simple, we just have too much stuff!  More is finding its’ way to the market every day as our elders die, and the boomers are getting the message to simplify their lives and let go of things that bog them down.

This simplification process has brought to the marketplace experts:

  • professional organizers
  • senior move managers
  • stagers
  • estate experts

Look for professionals who are trained, credentialed, belong to professional organizations, and have solid experience.  Start whittling down the years of stuff you no longer use or need.  Open up your space and let light in the house.  All my clients who have taken the downsizing plunge are thrilled they did it, and are now free to enjoy their lives.

As we make our way through our parents’ belongings, we also have our stuff to contend with at the same time.  It’s important to think ahead and have some kind of plan in place, whether giving/gifting in advance, or selling everything and buying only what you really need.  You will love the feeling of lightness.

Learn to let go.  Keep the next generation in mind as you are doing so.  It’s one of the best gifts you can give your family.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

You Don’t Have to Keep the Things to Remember the Love

Julie blog picture

Nearly 50 years have passed since this photo was taken.  Yet I can tell you the occasion and the color of my dress, shoes, beloved teddy bear, and dad’s sunglasses.  He seemed as large as life to me; every time I looked up at dad, I felt like I was staring into the sun.  His hands were big, rough, and strong.  Strong enough to discipline us kids when we needed it, strong enough to pick us up when we fell and guide us when we grew.  When he was old and fragile, we used to walk hand in hand, his being much smaller and bony with the ravages of time, in my own strong hands that I inherited from him.  We would walk and I would listen to his stories of long ago.

On this day in the photo, Dad had given me this teddy bear, my new best friend, donning 1960s style red and white pajamas.  If I recall the family story, dad bought it off the back of a truck in New York City where he used to work.  I didn’t care where he got it.  It was a gift from him.  That made it really special, even all these years later, and especially now that he’s gone.

I do not have a clear recollection of where Teddy ever ended up, whether it was to a younger cousin or given to the church yard sale, but that old bear was loved and brought me lots of joy.  A special memory shared between a father and a daughter!

I struggle sometimes on the inside when my heart is hurting because of loved ones that have passed, and how much I feel their loss.  They are truly missed.

Even though they are gone, their spirit – the essence of who they were – isn’t gone!

They walk with me each day in my thoughts and I hold them dear.  You have relatives like that too.

We don’t need to take all their stuff after they pass and load up our own homes and lives in order to remember them.  Their stuff is still just stuff.

What makes their stuff special is who owned it, who used it, who loved it, or who gave it!

There is a season for every thing.  Sometimes, it’s the season to give their things to others who can really use the stuff or really need it far more than we do.

I can’t speak for any of you; this photo and the memory attached to it are a gift to only me … a snippet of a moment in my life and my father’s.  I ask you, could there possibly be any tangible item more special than that?

A diamond ring will sparkle only as long as you are here to enjoy it.  Money, houses, or cars can’t go with you either.  But a special memory sits in the heart forever.  That, my friends, is exactly what you can take with you!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on December 11, 2014 at 10:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Are You Leaving Behind a Gift or Guilt?

Are you leaving a gift or guilt for your loved ones?  A bounty or a burden?  It’s time to think about it.  Seriously.

Living or deceased, in about 90% of the cases I see, older adults are leaving a burden.  This is not criticism, but merely an observation.  I see older adults:

  • not thinning out or downsizing
  • not sorting through files from decades ago
  • not having old business/company paperwork shredded
  • not recycling magazines, catalogs, and newspapers that are piled high
  • not going through boxes that were packed when they moved in years prior
  • not sorting through closets which contain clothes not worn in years
  • not sorting through family photos (which means the children won’t know who’s in them)
  • not whittling down the kitchen’s abundance of glassware and cookware

In short, they are either unwilling or simply don’t have the energy to tackle this.  In either case, there is always professional assistance available to help; first, you have to want to do this.  Knowing human behavior, I think some of it is also avoidance.

If an older adult doesn’t want to do these things, what makes them think their kids or loved ones will want to do them?

I can tell you firsthand, they don’t.

We should start downsizing at 50 and keep doing a little each year, so what does pile up is manageable and never reaches that daunting level.  Here’s the hard-hitting reality of this blog: if you don’t do it now, you are leaving an overwhelming task for your children or loved ones to handle after you leave this place.  As a personal favor, please don’t do that.

One of the most horrible things I have ever heard is, “I’m leaving it for the kids to deal with.  I won’t be here.”  Many will consider this a very selfish way of thinking.

The children or loved ones we leave behind have very busy lives of their own.  They may still have children to raise and a full-time job.  They may be caring for other family members who are ailing.  It’s also possible they are up in age and not quite able to do the cleaning out themselves.  It is a task no one wants to tackle, especially when they happen to live 600 miles away and have to take time off work (often their personal vacation time) to clean out an estate.

If you could see what I see when they are in these homes putting in 110% effort with little progress, it is a sad sight to behold.  The legacy one intends to leave is not the one the children actually feel.  They feel sad, mad, and often have a dazed look on their faces as they complain that mom and dad had years to do this cleaning and never did.

“Why did they leave this for me?”

 One of the very best gifts or legacy you could leave your loved ones, is to begin the process of whittling down and clearing out, even if you have to hire help, or find trustworthy volunteers to do it.  You may not be there to see the relief and gratitude on their faces, but take it from one who knows.  It makes all the difference in the world to them.  They will truly appreciate your gift … and your legacy will live on.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Life is Hard; Massive Trend to Simplify

In the last 6 months, I have had about 15 clients preparing to leave the U.S.  Several are headed to Costa Rica, one to Belize, and the others mostly Belgium and Switzerland.  A couple of others are selling off all their worldly possessions and traveling the country, having sold their businesses and converted their belongings to cash.

In my practice, I am seeing a huge and fast occurring trend to simplify lives and, for lack of a better phrase, “get out of Dodge.”  It is interesting to sit back and watch this occur.  One would think the clients I am referring to are all affluent, but this is not the case.  Some just want a different life, a simpler life with less rushing about.  They are tired of being masters to large homes, caring for property, and owning more stuff than they can use.

They are even growing tired of the items they inherited, making peace and letting them go too.  From what I can tell, these heirlooms have become monkeys on their backs and they are doing something about it.

We have already seen this mindset in the younger generations X and Y.  The millennials have a thought-process all their own; it seems they came into this world not wanting stuff at all.  They prefer cash, not stuff.

The majority of my clients divesting themselves of nearly everything are 50+ years and see the writing on the wall.  These decisions usually come after their last parent has passed away, and the children are either grown or on their own.  They themselves are either retired or been let go of their jobs early, and having trouble finding a new one.

It might seem impulsive to many of you who may be aghast at the thought of selling your worldly possessions.  But this group of people, which is growing rapidly (based on the phone calls I receive each day), knows

  • they can’t take it with them,
  • the market is not doing us any favors, and
  • these things will be a burden to someone else someday.

I have followed up with many of these people, and here’s the kicker … They don’t regret a thing!  They are so happy they let go of the very things that anchored them; now they are free to enjoy their lives and do what they really want to do.

Funny thing, “stuff.”

So many of us equate our success to the acquisition of stuff.  Yet, in the end, it really doesn’t mean much because it cannot come with you.

Sure, we have our few favorite pieces we could never live without.  We humans are creatures of habit.  We only use 20% of what we own.  Think about it!  We wear our favorite clothes, favorite shoes and purses, and the rest just sits there.  When is the last time you really enjoyed all of the items you brought back from mom’s house after she passed?  Are they just sitting there on a shelf, kept but not truly cherished?

I am heeding my own advice and letting go of many things I spent 20+ years collecting.  My husband is wondering why I am suddenly purging.  It’s because we have too much, and we no longer want or need it.  I’d rather have the cash, more space, and more time to enjoy myself!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 9:20 am  Comments (3)  
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