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The Big Declutter: A Challenging but Necessary Part of Your Estate Plan


If you are of retirement age, you probably have lots of stories about how your parents, who were of working age during the Great Depression, never threw anything away.  Even if you love shopping, and even if you are proud to show guests your collection of knickknacks and to bring boxes out of the garage when your grandchildren visit so you can see them enjoy the toys their parents used to play with, you probably believe, deep down, that there is such a thing as too much stuff.  Cleaning out your parents’ house after they passed away was probably one of the most emotionally taxing things you have ever had to do.  You probably only ended up keeping a small fraction of the stuff your parents held onto for decades just because they thought you might want it.  Even if you don’t have nearly as much clutter as your parents did, deciding what to do with your personal belongings after you are gone will cause your children just as much stress as it caused you to sort out your parents’ possessions.  If you undertake the big declutter now, while you are alive and well, you will spare your children untold amounts of heartache.  A Florida estate planning lawyer can help you view your personal belongings as parts of your estate and act accordingly.

The First Round: Appraising the Sentimental Value of Your Personal Items

The next time your children visit you, make it a family activity to show them every item in every room of your house and decide which ones they want.  Tell them that this is part of the big declutter.  They can take some of their chosen items home with them in their suitcases or car, of course.  As for the bigger items (or the items that simply don’t fit in the luggage, in the case of out-of-town family members who travel light but express interest in a sizable amount of your stuff), give them a deadline by which to remove the stuff from your house.  It might require them to make another visit, rent a U-Haul, or pay for shipping.  Make it their responsibility; this way, you will know the difference between the stuff your children want and the stuff they just say they want.  Anything they have not removed by the deadline is yours to appraise.

The Second Round: The Financial Appraisal

After the deadline for the removal of sentimental items expires, everything that is left derives its value, if any, from its resale value.  Have it professionally appraised, even the items that have been appraised before; the value of items changes over time.  Donate or trash the things that have little market value and not enough sentimental value to have been claimed in the first round.  After that, invite your family members back to choose items that they want now that they know they are valuable.  Again, put the responsibility of the burden of removing the items on the recipients, and set a deadline.  After that deadline passes, your valuable clutter is yours to sell.

Contact an Attorney Today for Assistance

A professional declutterer can help you with the big declutter, and an estate planning lawyer can, too.  Contact Clearwater asset protection attorney William Rambaum for help.


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