Julie Hall is an expert in dealing with personal property from the Depression era. Estate dissolution and helping grieving families make appropriate decisions during the estate settlement process are her specialties. She is a certified personal property appraiser, an estate sales professional, a residential content removal specialist, and a broker of fine items. As owner of The Estate Lady®, LLC, she brings 18 years of experience to families facing the overwhelming task of dissolving the family home.
In the last post, I included a list of some reasons why people have a hard time letting go of their stuff. I want to continue the conversation with a couple of important suggestions from my experience as both an appraiser of residential contents and an estate liquidator.
First, if you are clearing out many possessions, enlist the assistance of a personal property appraiser. When in doubt, always have the contents of an estate/home appraised 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 that “everything is junk” and then discover through an appraisal that some pieces have significant value. Family stories through the years can also add to the anticipation of great-grandfather’s chair being more valuable because it is so old. Remember, age is not the only determining factor of true value.
Another important issue that the older generation should realize is that many of the heirs generally won’t take much. Their children already have houses that are full from being married 20 years or so, and adding more will only fuel marital strife. The younger generations appear to want nothing but cash assets. Even if your children do take items, their children definitely don’t want them now, and most likely will feel the same in the future. They are not interested in antiques or traditional possessions when they could take the cash they receive and go to IKEA or Pottery Barn.
Holding onto possessions for the sake of not wanting to let them go will leave a massive burden for the children/heirs. Gifting now and making plans for the distribution of your possessions while you are still here (and in control of those decisions) is the best plan of action!
By Julie Hall
The Estate Lady Blog
[First posted February 8, 2010, at Julie Hall's Estate Lady Web site.]