Jason P. Mallory, H.B.A., J.D.
“What to do with all this stuff?”
There is a lot of talk about the great wealth transfer that is occurring as Boomers and Gen Xers receive
considerable inheritances from the Estates of their parents.
Something that I see a lot of in my practice, which isn’t discussed very often, is the great transfer of “stuff,” that is also occurring along with this considerable wealth transfer.
Let’s face it, our parents and grandparents own a lot of “stuff”, and often enough, so do we, even though we might fancy ourselves as minimalist. Whether it be antiques, collectables, or keepsakes, for many households nothing holding any meaning or potential value was thrown away.
I am not talking about hoarding, I am talking about organized and methodical collecting and keeping of “stuff.” Sometimes this stuff has sentimental value, and sometimes it was just a hobby, but one thing is for certain, there is a voluminous collection of things in many of our parents’ and grandparents’ households.
I hear a lot of my clients tell me “My kids don’t want any of my stuff. They can just have a yard sale and divide the money when I’m gone.” But it isn’t always that simple. It can take a tremendous amount of time and effort, as well as emotional strain, to organize and sell or dispose of “stuff.”
Often times the dividing and distributing of “stuff” can create arguments and turmoil between siblings, and that’s not good for anyone.
If you or someone close to you identifies as a collector of “stuff,” consider doing some of the planning before things get to the point of Estate administration. If there are very specific and meaningful things that you wish to pass on to specific people, maybe it would be a good idea to provide for a specific gift of those things in your Will.
If you have a vast collection, or if you are constantly adding to or removing from your collection, perhaps preparing a list of your wishes in your own words regarding the distribution of that stuff is a good idea.
I have some clients who have prepared organized 3-ringed binders with colour photographs of each item in their collection and beside each item is the name of the family member or friend whom they wish to receive that item.
Depending on the size and value of the collection, it may even be worthwhile to enlist the assistance of professionals or an auctioneer to assist with the organization, taking of inventory, and sale of “stuff.” You can provide instructions regarding this in your Will.
So, if you have “stuff” that holds sentimental value and brings you joy, consider a bit of pre-planning with your loved-ones, as well as in your Will. This can help keep the good memories going for future generations.
This article was written & submitted by: Jason P. Mallory, of Mallory Law in Chatham & Blenheim, is the recipient of the Margaret E. Rintoul Award in Estate Planning
*Comments in this article are not meant as legal opinions. Readers are cautioned not to act on information provided without specific legal advice with respect to their particular situation.