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Decluttering Is the New Estate Planning

If you have been meaning to declutter your house but have struggled to find the motivation, maybe it is because the usual arguments in favor of ridding your house of clutter do not resonate with you.  You are not planning to move or renovate your house, and going through the boxes and the spare bedroom and deciding which knick-knacks to throw away sounds like the opposite of joy.  Did you know that decluttering can be an important part of estate planning? Indeed, decluttering now while you are healthy might go as far toward preventing conflict and stress among your family members as your will or living trust.  

How to Stop Personal Property from Becoming a Contentious Issue During Probate

The decluttering industry calls it clutter, but in the world of estate planning law, it is known as personal property.  Too many people make the mistake of making vague provisions in their wills about their personal property.  For example, they might divide it equally among their children, or, worse, they might just say that it is up to their children to decide what to do with the personal property.  What ends up happening is that the deceased person’s grieving relatives are left sorting through mountains of clutter so that they can deal with selling the decedent’s house or fixing it up to rent it out.  In other words, it is another source of stress for people who are already going through an emotionally grueling process.

Talking About Decluttering Is More Fun Than Talking About Death

If you start decluttering now, you can open the door to conversations about your estate that do not require your children to focus on your mortality.  First, ask them which items of personal property have the most sentimental value for them.  Make specific provisions about these items in your will or trust, or, if you and your heirs are comfortable with it, let them take those items now.  Maybe decluttering doesn’t bring you joy, but seeing your daughter wearing your grandmother’s brooch will.

After you have assigned the most sentimentally valuable items to their recipients, consider having the rest appraised.  You might be surprised at the resale value of some of your items.  You can either sell the most valuable items or give your heirs a chance to call dibs on their favorite items of resaleable personal property.

Your Kids Don’t Want Your Clutter, but Maybe Someone Does

Family heirlooms that were prized in your grandparents’ generation may be useless, if not burdensome, to millennials.  Your daughter who supplements her salary with freelance gigs and is the primary caregiver for her children may not want to polish silver or iron dinner napkins, even on special occasions.  Somewhere, though, there is an online community of dinner napkin enthusiasts, even if they are just repurposing the napkins into fashion-forward COVID-proof masks.  Besides, finding someone who wants your clutter is a great way to meet new people.

Contact Us Today for Help

We can help you decide how personal property fits into your estate plan.  Contact our office for help today.