I have African artifacts from my time in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I have the stuff to make jewelry and other art projects. I have my own jewelry, art, special dishes and fabric. Who will want it? What will they do with it? How will they dispose of it? My family is all over the place, what to do then?
We all have “stuff” in our lives. Whether it is favorite baby clothes or memorabilia, a treasured baseball bat and glove, tools used to build those amazing projects, or a special candy bowl. Some items have value and some do not. For some, the value lies solely in the emotional significance the item has. We actually do not know how others feel about our stuff.
The task of passing on our personal property is thought to be an easy one – “They will figure it out” or “It’s not worth much so why bother now” or “Let them fight over it all”. Any attorney will tell you that the issue of passing on your personal property when you are not here will most likely be a challenging one that may lead to family disagreements.
There are 2 areas of personal property: Titled and non-titled. Titled property is usually dealt with through a deed, title, will, or trust. This includes property, a business, valuable art, vehicles, etc. Non-titled property usually does not have these legal mechanisms guiding who gets what. Items such as: clothing, photo albums and photographs, guns, books, tools, furniture, toys, dishes, linens, sport equipment, collections, craft projects, jewelry, devises, travel mementoes, etc. Have you noticed that these items make up the gist of our daily lives?
To help you deal with this area of Putting Your Affairs in Order, I suggest that you have conversations with your loved ones about what is important to them and why. These conversations are an opportunity to dig deeper with those in your family about the meanings of items, their connection to you and their relationship to others. Bravely take the step to grapple with this important issue now and reap the benefit of closer connections.
Future blog posts will offer resources to use and other ideas about how to deal with the Stuff of Life. Stay tuned.