You Can't Take It With You

by Irwin L

Here I am once again, attempting to think of an article to write about that affects us retirees and while the subject I have come up with does in fact affect retirees, it is more in line with thinking ahead as to how we should plan for the disbursement of the many belongings we have accumulated over the years.

Knowing how much stuff people tend to acquire over the years, my thoughts lend themselves towards the children as it will fall upon them to sort through, organize, possibly record and eventually disperse our belongings when we are gone.

Why does this thought even enter my head?

Because, many children today live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their parents! Distance alone can be a big problem when it comes time to look at settling parents’ estates especially where a house with furniture and other possessions are involved.

Think about it! Have you ever said to yourself – “Gee, I wish our children would visit with us more often?”

But then after you think about it a bit, one realizes that our children have lives of their own. There is their job, raising children, after school activities, in some cases night school so as to prepare for advancement, and so forth and so on.

That being said, do we want to add to all that by leaving them with yet another problem – that of clearing out that which we cannot take with us?

Let’s face it, we know that there may be the occasional piece of furniture that we want a specific child to have but what about the other stuff – you know, the stuff that may mean something to us in the here and now, but, in all probability, won’t mean a hill of beans to them after we are gone!

Which leaves us with the thought that, in all probability, most of the property (furniture, boxes of stuff, and so forth) will have to be disposed of somewhere and if not to relatives, probably to the Salvation Army Thrift Store or possibly Goodwill.

Problem is that while I am sure quite a bit of what we, as retirees, have acquired over the years may be the type destined to end up at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, the fact remains that someone will have to sort through this accumulation of items to decide what goes where, and what needs to be divided up amongst the remaining heirs.

Enter the “thought process” of coming up with ideas as to how to organize that which we have now so as to make it easier for our children once we are no longer here. I am sure many of us have an assortment of items we can identify with – such as – okay that item no longer has any sentimental value so we can just sell it.

Or depending on just how old it is and the condition of such item, perhaps we might want to have the item or items appraised before taking any action.

Then there are the articles or items we want to keep with us right up until the end probably because they serve a purpose and as such we do not want to part with them.

Then I am sure, there are quite a few things that, once we get over the hurdle that, “OK, I no longer need that item”, we can donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army or perhaps have a huge garage sale.

So, what is left? And this may be the hardest part of the process – sorting through items with sentimental value, be it jewelry, photos, wedding or golden anniversary gifts, and so on. These items will probably be listed in a grouping by themselves as the items I am not going to part with until I die. These should probably be listed in a codicil to the will, assuming one is in place.

So, there you have it. In a few short minutes, I have outlined a scenario of how to organize one’s belongings in such a fashion that will make it easier to prepare our house (sort of like getting one’s affairs in order) for the orderly disposal of many of the possessions we have acquired over the years.

Sort of sounds like we are preparing to leave this earth. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Why do I say that? Well, I am finding that the older I get, the less time I want to spend cleaning, looking for something, trying to find a home for this gadget or that item of clothing, and so forth and so on!

Let’s face it, the older we get, the more precious our time on this earth becomes. Addressing some of the issues just mentioned now while we have our facilities works both ways. It enables us to weed out, so to speak, thus creating a more satisfying atmosphere where we live that doesn’t take a whole lot of time cleaning not to mention that it becomes easier to find something when we only have those necessities necessary to make life simple.

Some may say that this appears to be a useless project, especially if we are fully functioning adults, in good health with all our faculties. However, I tend to look at it as a way of making our own lives much simpler while at the same time making sure that we do not burden our loved ones with the task of making those type decisions in addition to dealing with the grief of losing those they love!

Okay, that is all I have to say on this subject. That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Comments for You Can't Take It With You

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Give It Away
by: Nina from London

Hello Irwin,

For a while when I lived in a huge Edwardian house with five bedrooms and a large garden...back and front I was lost.

You described pretty much all the stuff that I had ...I can list them for you. But just a few items will be enough. We had three desks. One was bigger than the other. Also, there were more than 2,000 books which were precious to my late husband. The attic was full so was the shed. It took a year to give away, sort through things, and keep the items that were truly important.

As I did this I felt lighter and lighter. I was floating like a feather in the air. What a wonderful feeling!

I did some more throwing away and giving away after I moved to my smaller house. What a great way to unload all the stuff you don't need. My daughter helped as well. You sometimes need another person to give you a push. Now I know what she truly wants to keep and a lot of the stuff is meaningless and would be a burden for her to remove.

Thanks for your insight. Whole heartedly agree with the advice and the logic! Not ready to face the end either but glad that I moved when I did because my life is so much simpler (small garden and small house).

Best Wishes, Nina

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