Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Stuff We Leave Behind

Have you thought about all the stuff you have accumulated that you will leave behind at your death? You may  make specific devises or maybe you will just leave your estate in bulk to beneficiaries to divide up between themselves. Your collection of flamingo salt and pepper shakers may be precious to you but not to your beneficiaries.  The Washington Post wrote about this situation in a story titled Americans are pack rats. Swedes have the solution: ‘Death cleaning.’ The article starts off, "[i]f your family doesn’t want your stuff when you’re alive, they sure won’t want it when you’re dead....That’s the blunt assessment of yet another self-help author from abroad who is trying to get Americans, who have an addiction to collecting and storage units, to clean up their acts."  The book will be available in the US starting in January of 2018.

The advantage of winnowing down your stuff while alive is it takes a lot of burden off your heirs. 

The concept of decluttering before you die, a process called “dostadning,” is part of Swedish culture. (It comes from the Swedish words for death and cleaning.) Karin Olofsdotter, 51, the Swedish ambassador to the United States, says  ....  “It’s almost like a biological thing to do.” Olofsdotter says part of Swedish culture is living independently and never being a burden to anyone. How you keep your home is a statement of that.

Although this cleaning out can occur at any age, the author suggests 65. She also offers some suggestions such as:

Don’t start with your photos, as you’ll get bogged down in your memories and never accomplish anything. Make sure you keep a book of passwords for your heirs. Give away nice things you don’t want as gifts, such as china or table linens or books, as opposed to buying new items. Keep a separate box of things that matter only to you, and label it to be tossed upon your death. It’s okay to keep a beloved stuffed animal or two. 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2017/10/the-stuff-we-leave-behind.html

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