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Old 03-17-2016, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,685 posts, read 17,651,107 times
Reputation: 27772

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My last remaining great aunt died last month at 71. Her husband was somewhat older and died a couple years back, and they lived in a large farm house. They sold the house to her daughter and her husband, who basically left it as it was. She ended up in a condo before she had to go to a SNF, and had that furnished and acquired more possessions.

The daughter's husband's parents also passed away within the past couple of years, and they have no more room to take any of Carolyn's stuff. The daughter had my grandmother, mother, or aunt (only living family left on that side) come down two nights ago to see if they wanted any of it, and is going to check with the husband's side of the family and her church to see if they want any. The rest will be donated to the Salvation Army if they want it, and I assume the rest will be disposed of before the house is sold.

In a way, I feel like a vulture picking over the dead person's possessions. Who knows whether they would have wanted anyone else to have it, unless they specified either way. We've gone through this several times now where the decedents never specified their wishes - once with one of my grandmother's neighbors who had no children or remaining family in the area to take anything. The kids basically set all the stuff out in the yard a day or so after the burial for the closer neighbors to select from, then called Waste Management, got a dumpster, and hauled the remaining stuff off. It's sad to see a life go to people they weren't close with or even worse, to the dump. I'd say the house went from all the stuff in it and dad alive to dad dead, buried, and an empty house within a week. The kids sold the place, went their separate ways, and far as I know never came back to the area.

How have you planned to have your possessions distributed once you pass on? Do you have that in your will? Are specific or valuable items going one place, and less valuable or routine items going elsewhere? How do you feel about having your possessions picked over by family, friends, and neighbors? If anything, these situations I've been involved in are really good cases for better planning before the person is incapacitated/dead.
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Florida
4,380 posts, read 3,720,561 times
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The above seems fine.

To answer your question you should have a will. Probably most of your possessions do not have a title (a car has a title, a house has a title but jewelry, TV sets, clothes etc do not).

For your possessions without a title your will should reference a separate document where you direct how the non title items you want to go to someone are distributed. This list can be revised by you without going back to the attorney.

If any of the items have significant value or importance you may want to list these in the body of the will.
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:59 AM
 
6,323 posts, read 4,768,647 times
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This is similar to downsizing. When we downsized and sold our house, dealing with the accumulated stuff was a major issue...and was traumatic for my wife. We had the Vets or other charities take a lot of it. In fact we had them come on a weekly schedule as we picked through the rooms of stuff. Huge piles ended up in the garbage. We could have had a garage sale and made several hundred dollars but the nuisance was not worth it.


Friends and relatives rarely want what was once considered a prized possession. Personally I don't collect stuff. Unless it is useful, I don't want it and even then the utility has to greatly offset the cost and space it occupies. Unfortunately my wife is the packrat. She claims otherwise but the quantity of stuff in the house does not lie. If she dies first, I will have no problem clearing out 75% of what we own. If I die, first she will eventually need to walk away and have someone else dispose of it. Most will end up in the city dump.
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Florida -
8,771 posts, read 10,870,651 times
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As we downsized over the years, my wife started giving away things she had been saving for the kids: China, crystal, silver, Christmas decor, old albums, artwork. As it turns out, they have their own and really didn't want or need ours. (So, we got rid of the daily dishes and started using the little used china and crystal daily).

The value people associate with 'old used stuff,' based on who previously owned it, seems odd. When the same items show-up at impersonal estate sales or thrift stores, it is regarded as 'old junk' that nobody values or wants. I understand the sentimental value attached to certain items by family, but, wonder if we don't tend to 'over-value' our possessions.
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Columbia SC
9,018 posts, read 7,782,871 times
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Since my wife died I have been decluttering mainly by donating to Goodwill but also by trashing stuff. I gave her jewelry to her sister and her niece. I kept a few of her rings that I wear on a chain around my neck.

Much of the decluttering is stuff of mine like tools, etc. that I no longer use. Other is household stuff. We had 3 meatloaf pans. Two crock pots. 3 hot water kettles. 6 sets of sheets. 5 bedspread ensembles. I could not even count the amount of towels and odd linens we had.

I have told my son that when I die he can come and take what he pleases. As far as the rest, that is up to him. Sell, junk, donate, etc. it all as it is not like I will be needing it nor missing it.

Last edited by johngolf; 03-17-2016 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:41 PM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
7,119 posts, read 8,174,638 times
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Isn't it incredible the amount of 'stuff' that Americans collect over a lifetime?

Truth be told, none of it matters once they pass; they no longer have any use for material items. This stuff could end up in the hands of their worst earthly enemies, and they would not care. "Render unto Caesar"...

What I think is a shame is that tools, housewares (linens, dishes, cookware) and basic furniture should not be destroyed. It is so expensive for young people to set up a household today; why should they go into debt to buy new, what they could get for free? Yet, this is what they choose to do!
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Old 03-17-2016, 01:28 PM
 
2,132 posts, read 1,012,616 times
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I have one child. He gets it all. Although he has already made it very clear that he doesn't want any of my junk.

So I will ask him to donate as much as possible to charities. Such as my loom and pottery equipment. But I expect he will just throw most of it away as he thinks it is all "junk".

Examples of "junk":

Ankarsrum mixer, just a couple of years old
Potters wheel, brand new and not yet used because I don't have space for it yet
VitaMix, also just a couple years old
Glimakra Julia loom
35mm digital camera, brand new Pentax, and lenses and filters
keyboard
2 harps
native American flutes
saxaphone
flute
my Elan Excellence sewing machine, brand new
All my tools
All my books - thousands of them

With the exception of the musical instruments and the books, most of this was purchased recently after decades upon decades of doing without.

My sewing machine was purchased used in the 80s. I've never had a new machine of my own until now. I did without a good mixer or blender for all those years as well, and very much treasure the good appliances I have now and wish I had not put these purchases off for so long. I did my weaving and pottery at local guilds and parks & recs programs, where they existed, for all those years as well.

In order to see to it that these and other tools and equipment are best distributed after my death, I'll have to identify specific recipients in the area to receive these items because my son won't. The best I can hope for from him would be for him to call Goodwill to come haul everything away. Otherwise, he will quite literally just set everything on the curb to have it hauled away as trash.

I understand it is unlikely that my son, at this late date, will suddenly develop an interest in musical instruments or the tools of various creative enterprises. But come on - at least don't call the things that matter to me "junk" to my face!
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Old 03-17-2016, 01:49 PM
 
13,349 posts, read 25,612,945 times
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I am currently downsizing (although don't have that much) and donating whatever isn't making the trip to Colorado with me in my retirement, from 1250 sq.ft. to 770 sq.ft. There's a wonderful little organization nearby that takes household goods and furniture to give to formerly homeless people who acquire a place to live, but don't have the stuff for daily life (tables, dishes, etc.) I am donating artwork that is too big for my new place to a fund that will sell the artwork to support people who can't afford to get vet care for their animals. Books to the library for their biannual sales. Clothes to St. Vincent Thrift Store at the Catholic church.

I suppose I could try and sell stuff, but it's not worth it to me. I just want it to have a useful life if it still is useful to someone.
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
16,390 posts, read 10,371,940 times
Reputation: 28646
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post

How have you planned to have your possessions distributed once you pass on? Do you have that in your will? Are specific or valuable items going one place, and less valuable or routine items going elsewhere? How do you feel about having your possessions picked over by family, friends, and neighbors? If anything, these situations I've been involved in are really good cases for better planning before the person is incapacitated/dead.
Single, no dependents or close relatives. As my will states a friend will get my jewelry. Everything else will be be divided between 2 specific local charities.

If I had anyone close enough to pick over my stuff, I'd try to give it to them before I die. I sent a ring my great grandmother gave me to a cousin on that side of the family, also some oil paintings
done my our grandmother.


Some stuff my mother gave me I gave to her last living sister.

I have the memories; I don't need the stuff.
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Old 03-17-2016, 03:04 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,380 posts, read 3,720,561 times
Reputation: 4126
One thing to keep in mind. If you tell someone they can have something when you die, be sure to tell the rest of your family members or leave a note with your will. Might be a good idea to also let your family know that you did not promises anything to any one.
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