Each generation has different tastes and values when it comes to possessions. And nowhere is this difference more apparent than when it comes time to pass them along. It can be a shock to downsizing parents when they learn that none of their children want grandma’s big, formal dining table and chairs.
It may be that the next generation doesn’t decorate with large oak pieces, or they simply don’t have any place to put it. Either way, it’s difficult for the older generation to see a treasured heirloom sold on Craigslist or sent to the thrift store.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that an entire industry has grown up around helping seniors downsize, and a big component is dealing with the logistics and emotions of letting things go.
They write, “When a pile of possessions has come to embody a sense of identity—or even what someone could become—it’s not always easy to figure out what should stay and what should go.”
But there are also bigger assets that the next generation might not want to inherit.
Kiplinger’s identifies what they believe to be “5 of the Worst.” In each case the item may have considerable value in the owner’s eyes. But it can also come with headaches for the person it’s being passed along to.
Timeshares – This is essentially a long-term contract where you agree to rent out a vacation property. If the timeshare passes along to your heirs, they may be on the hook for ongoing and ever-increasing contract costs—even if they don’t want it.
Potentially Valuable Collections – While rare coins or antique musical instruments can be a delight for the collector, they can be difficult for heirs to value, properly insure, and maintain.
Guns – Many states have regulations preventing you from simply passing along firearms without a permit. Another concern is giving guns to heirs who may not be aware of how to store them safely.
Vacation Properties – These can be a potential financial and emotional landmine, especially if you’re leaving one to multiple family members.
Any Physical Property (Especially with Sentimental Value) – Jewelry is a common example of this. It’s difficult to value accurately (usually worth less than the owner thinks), making it difficult to divide fairly.
The biggest takeaway from all of this is to communicate with your heirs well before you’ll be passing things along to them. It may be best for you to plan to sell certain assets and pass along their value that way.
But in any case, keep your heirs in mind as you organize your house. As you do, be open to the idea that leaving them with truckloads of items to deal with isn’t really the best outcome for them once you’re gone.
If you need help in this area, we’re happy to share strategies for streamlining your inheritance and making sure your valuable assets are passed along amicably.