Parent are always taking care of their children, no matter the parent’s age or the child’s age. My parents, who are in their mid 80’s, are worried about how to distribute their belongings to their three children, and eight grand children. Wills are great for distributing wealth, but more in the way of money, housing, and large items. What happens to personal belongings, antiques, furniture, and household items? There would be too many items to individually list on a will. There are some creative ways to designate who items go to and how to distribute them before hand.
1) One option a lot of people are looking at is giving everything to charity. This would take care of the bickering and arguing that goes on in so many families. This of course can be taken care of in the will be simply stating that everything is to whichever charity is preferred and named. A lot of people are also opting to give their belongings to their church.
2) Hold an estate sale while still alive. A friend of mine did this. When her Mom passed away, her Dad went through their house, and picked out what he truly wanted to keep. As he was moving into an assisted living facility and couldn’t take much with him, he sold most of what he had. This provided money for his care, and provided a simple way to get rid of his belongings. He felt this would make it easier on his children once he was gone. They would have very little to divide up or give away.
3) Rather than naming every thing in a will, devise a method of marking objects around the house. My grandmother simply place everyones name on the bottom of the object. A creative method is to donate a color to every family member or person who is being given items.Of course there will need to be a coding master list, hopefully several copies, and one with the will. All that has to be done is placing the correct colored dot on the bottom of every item. When the elderly person passes away, all their family has to do is look at the bottom of the object to see if its theirs.
4) To me, gifting the items while the person is still alive makes so much sense. Giving is one of the most precious things in the world. Why not give non used, large or older items away now? Seeing the job on loved ones faces would be better than just hoping they get the item and enjoy it after you are gone. Many people are opting for gifting their belongings while alive. of course, there are many things that are still being used, and will just have to wait to be given away.
Of course my parents always make it clear. They aren’t finished with their belongings yet. They love to gift, but not their things they are using while they are still using them. The occasional argument about who gets the piano, is on hold. Both my parents tell us, they still need it! However, it is nice to know that provisions have been made once they are gone. The point isn’t that we really care who gets what. The issues is that, when we are grieving, knowing who gets which of their belongings, will make our job as children, overseeing their estate, easier. Another added benefit of planning beforehand, is that the elderly will have distributed their things they way they want to. They will make sure they have given their precious personal items to whomever they feel will use it best.