Time of the Heavy Heart

How Can We Change That?

Lately, I am sensing a heaviness of spirit in almost everyone I speak with, from good friends to colleagues to clients.  We carry this heaviness due to the times we live in; 24-hour news and social media and seeing the worst of the worst around the globe.  I personally feel a heaviness in how we see people treating one another.  The dark appears to be overtaking the light every time we turn on the computer or TV.  While they say the economy is stronger, in my world I see a much softer market and weaker economy.

I also see my clients outliving their money; tough decisions need to be made by their Boomer children.  I have heard stories from colleagues that buyers and clients have turned threatening if they don’t get their own way.  These threats are from middle-aged people who know better and have lost their way in the graceful art of problem solving.

Geopolitical issues are a whole other topic which requires nerves of steel to discuss.  Wherever we look, there is stress.  But lately, I have come to look at all of this in a different way.

After noticing I have a tendency to worry, my father once asked me if I am personally capable of controlling issues like mentioned above.  No, I cannot make the economy strong again and I cannot make people treat each other with respect.  I can’t even provide the financial means for everyone who needs it.

However, I can control how I respond to these troubles.

I can find my own unique and personal ways of contributing more good and more light.

By contributing, I mean solving the problem, finding peaceful resolutions, finding compromise in a world of “gimmee,” being reasonable, and at the same time trying to help others who need it.

When on earth did everyone become so entitled?  Haven’t you noticed we are all starting to slump over, as if the weight of the world is on our backs?

We have a choice.  Not one of us has been eliminated from carrying some kind of burden: health, finances, children, work, etc.  I have a theory that this world is a classroom and we are the students; we should learn a lesson and then go teach others.  Problems and burdens will always come and so will the bills.

  • Keep lists of what needs to be done and cross them off one at a time.
  • Feel good about what was accomplished.
  • Help others accomplish what they need help with.
  • Do something fun and show your grin as often as possible.  Someone is always watching and may need that smile.
  • Learn to find “you” again.
  • Lastly, just be kind because the world already has too many thugs.

In a world so full of dark, don’t you think it would be wise to turn on our inner light?  That’s my take on it!

©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.

Published in: on September 1, 2016 at 10:35 am  Comments (8)  
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The Blockade

Obstacles are everywhere in life:

  • The teenager left a mound of clothes to step over
  • You’re stuck in morning traffic
  • Everyone’s in the kitchen at the same time
  • You reach the grocery checkout and there’s long lines

Think about how much time is spent waiting to either go around or jump over obstacles and you’ll see it’s an astounding amount of time we can never regain.

In one aspect of life, I see obstacles where they should not be.  In my estates, I work closely with boomer children to guide them in making solid decisions regarding their parents’ possessions:

  • what should be sold
  • how it should be sold
  • how to maximize the sale
  • options and resources

My work also places me in the nitty-gritty of “family affairs”, many situations that are not for the faint of heart.  In the last few years, I am seeing siblings doing things against each other more than ever before, and I call it The Blockade.

A good example of The Blockade is when one sibling moves in with a parent, either to help with their needs or because the sibling is financially strapped and needs a place to live.  Often, it is both.  This sibling is usually helpful with the parent and keeps the home clean, helps cook, cares for mom, etc.  The problem takes place after mom is placed in another residence like assisted living or passes away.  Getting that sibling to move out of the family home can take an act of God.  Literally.

I see these children (not all, but many of them) not want to budge and often force the hand of the executor.  Sometimes they feel justified because they did so much work and offered care for the parent.  I understand that.  However the entitlement mentality does not belong here at this place and time, because mom’s will often stipulates the home is to be sold and possessions divided.

Rarely is this sibling the executor or legal decision maker.  Since I work with the legal decision maker, I get a front row seat to this event.  Sad to watch!  The sibling living in the home will use it as a storage facility, settling in for the long run and making life very hard on the other siblings and especially the executor.  Resentment grows; you can figure out the remainder of the story.

I have seen these refusing-to-budge siblings throw fits, threaten, etc.  The bottom line is if the legal documents are prepared ahead of time and the instructions are clear that the home is to be sold and divided among the heirs, that is what must be carried out.

It is not okay to be The Blockade.  I can see both sides and I understand the emotional ties to a home and possessions can be very strong.  But nothing ever stays the same.  Everything transitions to some other place.  Life is ever-changing.  Sometimes things cannot remain the same, even if we want them to.

This is about the parent’s wishes and fulfilling them for ALL involved!

I recently had the pleasure of working with an executor who had to deal with this situation.  He did not want to hurt his sibling.  He had already been incredibly patient.  His situation was fairly simple as the will specified what had to be done.  I encouraged him to:

  1. Document correspondence to that sibling, including emails and certified letters, stressing mom’s will be followed.
  2. Offer the sibling a fair amount of time to vacate and give a date when they will need to be moved out to a new home.  (This sibling had been dragging their feet for a year now.)  They might say they have no money and no place to live, but they have to put forth effort and do what is legally and morally right.  If they are in ill-health, try to help them with local resources.
  3. Enlist the advice of an attorney if you cannot resolve this issue on your own.  No one wants to do this, but in some cases, you may have to meet one to find out the best course of action because of all the problems arising from The Blockade.  Perhaps it can be resolved peacefully, which is optimal for everyone.
  4. Hire a realtor.
  5. Be present, or have a representative present, when they do move out.  In this case, items were disappearing daily which is certainly not fair to the other siblings.  Have the locks changed immediately after the sibling leaves.
  6. Hire an estate sale professional immediately after they have moved out to sell the contents of the home.  www.ASELonline.com
  7. Everyone move forward with their lives.  Try your best to keep the peace.

Life is hard enough without added obstacles.  Do your best to never become one.  If you know someone who is currently The Blockade, talk to them about how their actions are impacting others.  The goal is to be part of the resolution, not part of the problem.

©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.

 

Unthinkable, Unethical, Unlawful ~ Good Grief!

Most professionals that work within the estate industry hear and see things that defy logic and make our hair stand straight on end.  This story is one of them.

Imagine your sibling is very ill, in the process of passing away in hospice.  Most of us would be doing all we can for our family, the children, the spouse, being present and offering support in any way to ease the pain they are going through.  Most of us would also be spending those last precious moments together with the loved sibling.  That is what family is for.

But some families think of other things that wouldn’t even enter into our minds.  While the ill sibling is unresponsive in a coma, a sibling helps themselves to not only their jewelry and silver, but their credit cards taken straight from their purse.  Worse, yet, they USED the credit cards throughout the last week of the sibling’s life and even after they had passed away.  Does anyone out there have the right words to describe this, because I am so appalled, I cannot print what I would really like to say?

I believe it is unlawful to use someone else’s credit cards and certainly unlawful after their death, if you are not named on the account.  Everything can be tracked these days.  They always find the culprit right down to getting receipts, video recorded at the store, etc.  So I ask a question that my mind is not capable of understanding:  WHY would anyone do this when life is hanging by a thread and all they can think of is stuff?  Unethical, YES.  Unthinkable, YES.  I cannot even wrap my head around it.

Shoes, purses, jewelry, and all the silver or gold in the world doesn’t mean a thing when a loved one dies.  It doesn’t mean a thing when we die.  They are just pretty things that we use for awhile.  They take up space and take money out of our accounts.  But seriously?  On a deathbed?

What is becoming of our world?  Are there people out there so devoid of compassion or kindness that they fill their void doing things that are unthinkable?  I’ve seen cases like this in the past, but they happen more frequently and it is most disconcerting to witness.

Yet another reason to have a plan in place, tell those closest to you what you want, and back it up with legal documents.  If there are those you don’t trust, let those that you do trust know this too.

Maybe the best investment we can make is a safe in our homes, offering the combination to only your executor or in sealed documents to be opened upon your passing.  Gift items while you are still living.  Have your power of attorney gather all personal possessions (such as your wallet) and secure them until such a time as legal affairs are sorted out.

I’m still shaking my head in disbelief!

©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

Published in: on April 21, 2016 at 9:59 am  Comments (4)  
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10 Estate Behavior Commands

With great reverence for God’s 10 commandments, here are the basic rules which should be followed in any and every estate situation.  Often, we aren’t thinking clearly in the middle of the estate settlement and distribution process.

While there are no laws that pertain to human behavior when handling an estate and the distribution of property, these commandments should be “etched in stone” to remind us how we should behave.

  1. Thou shalt not worship material possessions.  They can be a monkey on your back and, ultimately, you can’t take them with you.
  2. Greed and the love of possessions can be false idols which can, and often do, ruin families.
  3. Don’t forget to take Sabbath for yourself.  We all need time and space to breathe and reflect.
  4. Honor your loved one that just passed away.  Take actions that would respect them and make them proud.
  5. Thou shalt not kill thy family relationships by destroying your chance to find peaceful resolutions.  Mend your fences.
  6. Do not cheat anyone, including yourself, in the estate distribution process.
  7. Thou shalt not steal anything, even if you think no one is watching.  Someone is always watching.
  8. Thou shalt not throw thy sibling(s) under the bus.  What goes around often comes around.
  9. Thou shalt not covet anything a sibling gets.  It’s not worth it; let it go.
  10. Stay true to who you are and walk as straight a path as possible.  Not only is immediate family watching, but your children and grandchildren as well.  Set an excellent example.

©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

In Pursuit of Good

Anything Less is Counter-productive

The world is full of good people with wonderful intentions.  The world is also full of bad people with evil intentions.  My past week has been filled with: “he said/she said”, “You won’t believe this”, or “Why are they bashing people like this?”  It was an exhausting week, and I feel drained of energy to do my creative work.  My good work.  The work I was put here for.

So, I sat back and watched things unfold before me.  What I saw was very sad.  Sad for me, sad for others who did nothing wrong, sad for everything that transpired.  I witnessed people losing themselves and imploding.  People were spending so much time attaching and hurting one another, often behind their backs, and spending very little time in the pursuit of something productive, something good.

I really examined the situation as objectively as I could, and came to the healthy conclusion that I would much rather spend my time, energy, and life using my gifts to:

  • create,
  • be the best I can be,
  • touch others’ lives in a positive light, and
  • uplift instead of ripping down.

It takes much more energy to hurt then it does to heal!

Why spend all of that time attacking and hurting others, when turning the other cheek (if possible), ignoring (if possible), or doing something for the betterment of others not only helps and improves the situation, it is also good and right.  I am not suggesting it is alright to be a doormat.  It is good to stand up for yourself in a professional manner.

Taking the high road is the road less traveled.

It is lonely and frightening at times, but does not go unnoticed and has its own rewards.

It is also easier said than done.

Here’s the point.  If you get sucked into the poop storm, the only thing that will fly will be poop.  It won’t do you any good, nor your spirit or overall well-being.  Nothing good can come of it.  Step out of the storm.  Always, always take the high road as often as you can.  While it can cause personal pain — we do take things personally — eventually the storm will dissipate and you will find a sense of happiness that comes with your good decisions.

We cannot control others.  We can only control how we handle what others do to us.  Call on friends for support, prayer, venting, etc.  Look towards a positive solution.  This too shall pass!

©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.

Giving While Still Living

Every estate plan should have a mandatory requirement: give away what you have (or at least part of it) while you are physically and mentally able to do so.  It is so important to make sure things are done the way you would like them, instead of through an unsuspecting family member or friend, who could make poor decisions with your assets.

Sometimes, those chosen to make decisions, make very poor decisions; some based on greed and not putting the loved one’s wishes at the forefront.  In some cases, the person chosen is just the wrong one to make these decisions; choosing wisely is half the battle.  Sadly, some feel they are entitled and help themselves, or they do not communicate clearly with other heirs.

I have seen this scenario so often; it leaves me with chills every time I think about it.  I have been brought into homes while mom is literally taking her last breaths.  I would have declined the visit, if I had known.  I have seen children steal while mom is sleeping in the next room (“She’ll never miss this.”)  I have been discovered that children have showed up with moving trucks in the dark of night to take what they want, never to be heard from again.  I have seen a woman steal jewelry from a dying girlfriend as she napped.  Sigh …

It brings me great joy when I can bring light to dark situations.  But what I can’t figure out is why people behave in this manner?  How on earth can they sleep at night?  I cannot imagine anyone doing such things and sleeping soundly.

My mind returns back to handling my own parents’ estate and how well my brother and I managed it.  We split everything right down the middle, down to the penny, just as mom and dad wanted it to be.  We loved them so much that we knew their money was first and always for their care.  They were the priority and we made sure they had what they needed.

Looking back, I am glad that mom gifted some things to me while she was still living.  When my father died last, I realized they had not gifted to my sibling, like mom did for me.  So when dad passed, it was important that my brother have grandfather’s war medals of courage, dad’s jewelry and college ring, etc.  It was only fair and that was the way we wanted it.  Since our parents were no longer there, we carried on in the way they wanted us to treat each other.

For those who may be struggling with this issue, allow me to interject a powerful thought.  With all the clients I have had in my career, I can assure you that the ones who

  • MAKE PLANS
  • STICK WITH THE PLAN, and
  • GIFT AHEAD OF TIME

fare much better than those who

  • DON’T PLAN
  • LEAVE OTHERS TO DECIDE FOR THEM, and
  • ANGER OTHERS.

SEIZE THIS MOMENT!

Gift to those who are special to you.  If your gifts are significant, please talk with your attorney or CPA for guidance.  If your gifts are sentimental, be as equitable as possible and give these items in person, so there are no questions later.  This simple gesture will not only offer joy to someone you care about, but you will also simplify what has to be divided later.

Accept this advice from one who really knows!

©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.

 

Fighting Over the Same Heirloom

Problem: Two of my siblings are fighting over the same heirloom.  How do you divide and keep it fair?

SOLUTION:  When two or more are arguing over the same item(s), you have a few options.  Beware, not all options will meet with approval.  Begin by getting a personal property appraisal on the items that the heirs desire, including the items that are the subject of the fighting.  This objective, third-party person will assign values that are fair, since they have no interest in the items.

Try to keep everything as equitable as possible to keep the peace!  This also depends on what the will/trust specifies.  If Sue gets a $5,000 item and Barbara gets a $200 item, that is not equitable.  Arrangements must be made, whether in cash assets or other items, to make up for that $4,800 deficit.

  • One sibling can offer to buy the item from the others and take it out of their inheritance, if there is one.  The price would be based on the appraised value.
  • If this item has significantly more value than other items in the estate, then that one choice will have to suffice until others get their pick of items and arrive at the approximate value.
  • If two people want a china set or silver flatware service, can it be divided?  Sure, but know that from the perspective of an estate expert, it is not advisable.  If this set were to be sold one day, it would be worth more to a collector/buyer if the set were intact and complete.
  • One heir simply “turns the other cheek” and forfeits to the other.
  • The two can write up an agreement and share the item, if it is practical to share.  However, this only postpones that inevitable decision later in life.  When the siblings die, the buck has been passed to their children to contend with the same issue.
  • If no one can agree and no one is willing to give in, the executor should consider selling the item through an appropriate selling venue and split the profits between all the heirs.  Yes, the siblings will be upset, but that is more acceptable than resenting each other for the rest of their lives.  If they remain in a tug-of-war, no solution provided is going to work.
  • What would mom or dad want?  Would they approve of this tension?  In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.  They would be disappointed.  They trusted you to make decisions that they probably should have made when they were alive, but for whatever reason, they didn’t.  You can’t go back; you can only go forward.  Go forward, knowing what your parents would have wanted, and be fair to each other.
  • If nothing else works, you could always flip a coin and let the odds decide for you.

Realize that these situations can be highly charged with tension and emotion.  Everyone is not going to be happy 100% of the time.  There are very few instances where everything comes out flawless.  Spare the relationships by keeping the peace.

©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.

The Roses

SAMSUNGRemember when we were little kids and our eyes went directly to the big, brightly colored, sugar-icing roses on our birthday cakes?  Everyone fought over those colorful, sugary roses that contained enough fuel to shoot us to the moon and back, or at least until midnight when the sugar buzz finally wore off and we crashed wherever we landed.  We were probably 5 or 6 years old, but already we had learned a lesson that would follow us throughout our lives.

The voice in our heads beckoned us to eat as much as possible including all those coveted roses.  After all, “it’s my cake, my birthday!  Why shouldn’t I have it all to myself?”

Mother’s quiet, yet serious tone forced me to share, and share equally among the other children at my party.  “You have to be fair to everyone,” she would say.

But that just isn’t fair to me, I thought to myself.  It’s my cake!  I should have all of the slices of cake with the roses on them.  (The roses were, and still are, my favorite.)

So it is with much of life.  We all want the “roses” in life; that includes our loved one’s estates.  You’ve had your eye on that antique grandfather clock, or mom’s diamond ring, or dad’s fishing lure collection for years.  You believe you should have them, or perhaps they were promised to you long ago, so you just assume they will be yours one day.  Then that “one day” comes and your siblings claim the same thing, so the trouble begins.  Indeed, every rose has its thorn.

Until items are gifted to you in person prior to infirmity or death, or until there is a written plan for those heirlooms upon a loved one’s passing, you are entitled to nothing unless it is given to you.  Even if you don’t end up with your beloved “rose,” remember that while we would like to have the majority of the cake, it’s good and appropriate to share as equally as possible, even if you feel it shouldn’t be that way.

I have seen with my own eyes good and poor behavior when dividing estates.  Those who lead with kindness and care for others end up faring the rocky experience pretty well.  Others will watch how you react, respond, and behave.  Much to my surprise, they will usually follow suit, especially if the plan is laid out before them.

Make a pact that there will be no fighting.  “Roses” are great, but peace is even better!

©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.

 

Scoundrels and Schemers

Louise was a wealthy woman in her advanced stages of a terminal illness, was blind, completely deaf, and in her final stage of dementia.  She could no longer communicate and decisions were being made for her by an old friend she trusted.  Louise had never married and had no children, but did have four beneficiaries to her estate.  All four really loved her and provided the very best care for her in a beautiful health center for the remainder of her days.

One of Louise’s passions in life was purchasing fine diamonds; she had several pieces that were very large and easily worth in the six-figure range.  Everyday, she wore them because she loved them.  Louise bathed in them, napped in them, slept in them, and ate in them.

The beneficiaries started to grow concerned about these pieces of jewelry Louise wore on her person, for a number of reasons.

  • Most people don’t even have pieces as valuable as these, and if they did, the pieces would be kept in a safe, vault, or safe deposit box.
  • The beneficiaries did the right thing in requesting the rings be removed while Louise was napping, to have the genuine diamonds replaced with less expensive stones, in the event something should happen to the rings.
  • The genuine diamonds would then have been turned over to the trustee of the estate and secured.  Who could possibly blame them for wanting the diamonds protected?

Unfortunately, the decision-maker overseeing Louise’s assets insisted that Louise should continue to wear those massive stones against everyone’s advice.

One day, less than 2 weeks after this request to have each diamond removed and replaced with cubic zirconia, the massive diamond pieces Louise was wearing disappeared.  Not only did these pieces disappear, but a video camera, some CDs and a crock put vanished as well from Louise’s home.  This was a clear indication to the family that the caregiver, sitter, or someone else who had very close contact with her, had made off with the goods.  The beneficiaries were beside themselves.

Why didn’t anyone prevent this from happening?

Why didn’t anyone listen to their request?

With all the questions and accusations that flew, the damage was done.  The diamonds were gone, never to be found again, probably sold at a pawn shop for a few thousand dollars and currently sitting in someone’s safe as their own retirement investment.

It is simply up to us, the chosen decision-makers,

to make the correct decisions to care for and

protect our loved ones (and their assets)

who cannot make decisions for themselves.

This story clearly demonstrates that we must exercise extreme caution with valuables.  Remember to have them evaluated by a professional, have those values documented, and keep them in a safe place until they are either distributed to family or sold.  The faces of exploitation are often familiar faces and not necessarily a stranger.

©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.

How to Select the Best Heirloom

This may be hard for some to believe, but when a loved one dies, the things I see are deplorable.  Children, siblings, extended family, friends, and neighbors descend on the estate like flies.  Seriously?  A life just ended, and this is what people think about .. the stuff and the money.

In my career, I have truly seen the unthinkable; people hire me to uncover the most valuable items so they can choose those items before their siblings arrive (as I later found out).  Children sneaking in the estate before the funeral, and even while the loved one was dying, to “help themselves.”  I have seen neighbors or long-term friends approach the estate as if they were entitled, which makes me ill.  I have seen families offer the caregiver a memento; then the caregiver uses their personal key to empty the house, literally, over the weekend, knowing the children are not there.

When did people get so calloused and mean-spirited?  It is very hard to understand people’s actions.  Everyone always seems to get greedy, hard feelings and resentment follow, and in the long run, no one is happy.

Here are a few helpful hints from The Estate Lady® to guide you in selecting an heirloom.

Selecting an heirloom(s) from an estate is a multi-fold process in your mind and in reality.  First, think minimalist.  Do not take just for the sake of taking.  Remember that anything you take ultimately becomes a challenge for your children in the future.  In making these decisions:

  • Keep in mind that selections are ruled by emotions/sentimentality/nostalgic ties to the person who just passed.  Examples would be photographs, their eyeglasses, a favorite perfume … small mementos that have little value to anyone but you.  NOTE: This does not mean pack up the entire estate and keep all small items.  It means be prudent and hold on to smaller items that you truly cherish.
  • At some point, the emotional side must give way to logical consideration and reality.  Separate the emotional from the realistic and see practical side.
    • Will I really use it or can my sibling use it more?
    • Will I have space for it?
    • Is the cost to transport/ship too high to get it to my home?  Don’t expect the estate to pay for shipping; arrange that on your own.
    • Do I have to put it into storage?  Think twice; storage gets very expensive.
  • Consider the condition of the item.  Older items can have serious problems: insect eggs in antique rugs, items in poor condition now unusable, mold on items, odors from smoking/animals/mildew.  You don’t want to bring these into your home, especially if you have allergies.

When our mom died, and my brother and I went back to their home to sort through things, I reached for this little gold tone frog with green eyes and solid perfume inside.WP_003000  I bought it for mom when I was 10 years old.  I laughed every time I saw it, wondering why she kept it.  One day I asked her.  “Mom, why do you keep this silly little frog?  I paid $1 for it when I was little.”  She simply replied, “It always made me smile; I remember when you gave it to me.”  Don’t you know I had to have that little frog?

This is how you make solid, knowledgeable selections from the estate.  Not based on worth, because money means nothing.  Chances are pretty good your children won’t want that 9 ft. tall Victorian secretary.

The value is in the heart and it will guide you!  Turn the other cheek, be polite to each other, and put the memory of the person you lost before yourself to honor them.  Friends and neighbors should step back, allow the family time to grieve, sort and make their selections first.  Friends should not request anything unless the children offer it to them.  If you can’t have a particular item, at least take a photograph and remember it that way.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the item you want.

©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.