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How Decluttering Your House Can Simplify the Estate Planning Process


Lots of people have included decluttering in their New Year’s resolutions; it ranks up there with improving one’s health and working toward financial goals.  If you are among the people who have set decluttering goals for 2020, you might be chasing the sense of mental clarity that the neatniks of the world claim that decluttering brings, or perhaps the clutter has been a source of conflict between you and your spouse for years.  You might even be getting rid of your clutter in preparation for a move or because some relatives will be coming to spend the summer with you.  The reasons for decluttering are many, but did you know that it can be part of your estate planning process?  Yes, the more you declutter now, the easier life will be for your spouse or children when they have to be in charge of your estate.  A Florida estate planning attorney can help you with the legal and financial consequences of decluttering.

No One Wants a Dead Person’s Clutter

Losing a loved one is devastating.  Cleaning out your attic, garage, or spare bedroom is laborious.  Put them together, and you have one of the world’s most unpleasant tasks.  Every time you find an item in your deceased parent’s house that you can’t decide whether to keep or discard, it brings back the pain that your parent is no longer there for you to ask.  The more you declutter now, the less clutter your children will have to deal with while they are also dealing with the probate of your estate.  If you don’t just leave your personal possessions for your children to sort out, then what do you do with it?

What to Do with Your Family Heirlooms If Your Children Don’t Want Them

In a perfect world, family heirlooms would never lose their sentimental value.  In reality, though, you probably have a few inherited items of jewelry or furniture that you care about, but the rest is just old stuff.  Besides, do your children really want to polish your mother’s silver-plated serving dishes or iron your grandmother’s embroidered dinner napkins?  When was the last time anyone used a doily that wasn’t made of paper?

You have several options for any given personal item, and each choice benefits your estate plan in its own way.

  • Let your children take it willingly. – Let your children choose which personal items they want; most likely, they will just take a few, but then you will know that those are the ones they really want. That way, you can part with the rest of the items with a clear conscience.  Giving your heirs their inheritance while you are alive is a great estate planning strategy, anyway.
  • Sell it. – Only a small portion of antiques have a high resale value. Have your family heirlooms appraised and find out which ones are worth selling.  Sell those ones and put the proceeds into a trust for your heirs.
  • Donate it. – Don’t donate all your items in one place. Find out which organizations accept which types of items.  For example, maybe you can donate your books to a library and your old postcards to a local history archive.  Remember, donations to charity are tax deductible.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Decluttering may elevate your mood, but for true peace of mind, you need a solid estate plan.  Contact Clearwater estate planning attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.




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