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I Have My Stuff, I Do Not Need Yours

It is another fallow period for celebrity estate planning news – the deaths of Jerry Lewis, Dick Gregory, and Ara Parseghian have yielded nothing newsworthy to date. Meanwhile, the NYT has an interesting piece on how children do not want their parents’ possessions when the parents downsize or move into a retirement home (or die). I see this with many of my clients and their children.

A few brief points:

1. In the age of furniture and decorations from Ikea and Wayfair, people do not want to decorate their homes with their parents’ 50 year old household items.

2. Unless an item is incredibly unique (i.e. Tiffany lamp, Baccarat crystal), it likely has little monetary value.

3. Personally, when my grandmother moved into a nursing home 20 years ago, all I wanted was her vintage lava lamp but I was also given (i.e. asked to remove) the bedroom set which I quickly disposed of.

4. If you have something you do not use or like, throw it away so your children do not have to throw it away after you die.

Photo Credit:  T.J. Kirkpatrick for the New York Times (from linked article)

License:  Fair Use/Education

The Grand Disillusion

The author of this article in the New York Times discusses how little her deceased mother’s personal belongings were worth.  She was fortunate in that some of the items – a silver German tea service, a French painting, and  a friend’s Tiffany lamp – are more common in New York than in other places.

 Among the salient points:

 1.  In a best case scenario, contents might be worth 1/10 the value of the house.

2.  Non-Baccarat crystal goblets are not worth packing up.

3.  English and Early American antiques are not as valued as they once were.

4.  Non-Steinway pianos are not very marketable.

 My quick points:

 1.  I always advise my clients to not argue with siblings over personal property – the sibling relationship is far more valuable than any particular item.

2.  Tastes in furnishings and household items change which leads to declining values in most items.

3.  In addition to one’s personal belongings being worth less than expected, one’s children are probably not as smart as one believes either.

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I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.