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Downsizing: Is My Stuff Worth as Much as I Think?

Can you imagine a millennial with a china hutch?

downsizing selling old carsDon’t take downsizing personally, when your adult children decline your furniture and other possessions.

The Street’s recent article entitled “If You Think Your Kids Want Your Stuff, Think Again,” says that baby boomers are getting ready to pass trillions of dollars to their heirs in coming decades.

Most of the money will pass from wealthy parents to their already well-off children. However, the inheritance many people will have to deal with is unwanted china, unfashionable furniture and memorabilia that reflects someone else’s memories.

Understandably, younger generations hate the thought of sorting through a parent’s lifetime accumulation, since many parents think their children will change their minds, or their grandchildren will want this stuff someday.

However, the reality is that lifestyles have changed. Younger people typically don’t have the time or the inclination to polish silver, hand-wash china, or iron linens. They don’t usually want heavy, dark wood furniture. Neither do buyers, because the values for old furniture have dropped.

While there probably is a hutch-loving millennial out there somewhere, but parents should ask what their children want when downsizing. They also need to listen to their answers.

People with things their children don’t want can ask extended family members if they’d like them, prior to deciding whether to sell or donate, that is if a charity will even want them.

You can research the potential value of possessions when downsizing by looking at the “sold” listings on eBay – Get Report or other auction sites.

You can also hire a personal property appraiser. You can get referrals from an estate planning attorney and expect to pay about $100 to $350 an hour.

It’s important not to put this off. The older people get, the harder it can become to clear out all the clutter.

The thinning-out process should happen sooner not later.

This being said, it is important to ask your child what is important to them.  Many family fights are over who gets personal property, like mom’s china.  To prevent those fights, make those decisions while you are alive and doing well.  Typically kids respect and honor parents wishes about who gets what personal property.  Where most hurt feelings come from is when parents haven’t made decisions and then the kids have to make the decisions amongst themselves.  Having a good estate plan in place helps avoid family fights and helps make things easier on your loved ones after you are gone.  If you have any questions about what steps you can take in your estate plan to help pass down person property and reduce the risks of family fights, visit with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney or elder law attorney.

Reference: The Street (July 22, 2020) “If You Think Your Kids Want Your Stuff, Think Again”

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