You have boxes full of family photos, closets full of mementos from your life and a lot of assorted items that really only have sentimental value.
Or, maybe you have a major collection that has significant value and a few other high-priced items that you think of as your legacy to your adult children.
What’s the problem? Well, your kids may not want all that stuff. The older they are, the more stuff of their own they probably have. They may not have room to add your stuff to theirs – and they may not value the same things you value.
How do you manage this kind of problem in your will? The experts say that it’s better if you don’t. Instead, try these options
Ask your kids what they really want out of your possessions
You may be shocked to realize that your grandmother’s silver set and your aunt’s china aren’t the treasures you thought your children would want. Instead, they may want a few items that seem minor to you – like that old afghan you used to curl up under on the couch or that funny painting of a duck that you hung in your foyer as a joke.
If the kids don’t have any overlapping requests, your job is pretty easy. If they do, you can try to negotiate a trade (one item for another) or figure out a fair way to make the division.
Consider donation, selling some things as well as an auction
Consider donating many of your items of lesser value – particularly anything that has been sitting around unused for the last decade or so. Old clothes, old furniture, books and art can be donated to thrift stores so that they can find new homes.
Alternatively, you can sell off anything that you think may have value and add it to a trust or another fund that you set up for your kids. They may value your thoughtfulness even more than the money.
If all else fails or the job seems overwhelming, you can leave instructions in your estate plans that give the kids what they want and leave the rest for auction.
Figuring out what to do with big assets – like your house, your car and your bank accounts – can be easy compared to the small stuff. The more you know about your options, however, the easier estate planning becomes.