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    Getting in front of leaving a mess for others to contend with?

    Related to the "family heirloom" and "decluttering" threads...

    Curious if anyone has some up with a way to parse all the artifacts that would be left behind when we die, and create a memoirs package? I'm thinking along the lines of capturing critical artifacts like pictures, awards, certificates, etc. well in advance and creating a digital package. Sure, there is scrapbooking, but a lot of what matters might not fit very well into that format. I'm imaging some sort of electronic format with a "here's what's critical" section, and a "here's everything else" section.

    I feel quite a bit of sentimental attachment to certain things, but without context, nobody else will. This give a chance to explain the value and let others decide what to do with it. The good thing about the digital model is that it consumes no mass and can be copied.

    Is "autobiography" a fitting description here?

    #2
    Great thoughts and questions. Obviously, from my other threads, I'm in the thick of this now as I clean out my late cousin's house.

    Here are some tips.

    Photos need to be identified. Who is in them? Where and when were they taken? If a special event, what was it?

    Throw out photos that aren't of people or significant things. Nobody will want the pictures you took of animals at the zoo or the random beach photos or the Key West sunset photos. We have Google for all of that. If I want a picture of the Empire State Building, I can easily pull up hundreds of them. Nobody will need to save yours.

    As you pointed out, many items have sentimental value to YOU and you alone. Even with context, they are unlikely to be meaningful to others. That said, it can't hurt to take a photo of the item and save it with a brief description, then dispose of the item. Nobody wants the employee of the month certificate you won or the dance contest trophy or the trivia champ award. Throw that stuff out. Your heirs won't want it and you don't really need it either.

    Go through all of your financial papers, documents, and statements. Save the most recent statements and shred the rest except for cost basis documentation which you'll need if you sell during your lifetime. After you die, that becomes irrelevant since it gets a stepped up basis when it passes to your heirs. Save tax forms for the past 7 years and shred anything older. Shred old bills. Get rid of everything related to assets you no longer own like paperwork from your last 3 cars or documents related to the house you sold 10 years ago. Toss out manuals for appliances and devices that you no longer own. And even for ones you do own, 99.9% of the time the manual can be easily found online on the very rare chance that you need to refer to it (when has that ever actually happened).

    If there are items that you truly believe are of real value like coins, jewelry, art, etc., create a file with a photo of each item and it's approximate value. Also include suggestions of how best to sell those items - local or online dealers that are trustworthy.

    If you know of charities that would appreciate certain things, make a list of those.
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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      #3
      I haven't searched, but it feels like there would be an opportunity to write a book about "How to die in an organized way". Maybe there already is one, who knows.

      My grandma did something neat. Every time someone came over, she'd give them something. Whether they wanted it or not. One day, she sorted all the photos and started giving out boxes of them, after she labeled who was in them and approximately what year it was taken (at least for the old stuff). The rest of her stuff she had her children help her get rid of by selling, donating, etc. Here and there. Not all at once.

      By the time she could no longer care for herself, there was almost nothing left. Just a few furnishings in her condo, some clothes, and a few keepsakes. All her accounts were already signed over, all paperwork in order.

      There wasn't a funeral, despite the fact all of us were very close with her. Instead, when she turned 90, we planned a surprise birthday where ALL of us flew or drove in. But it was also more than that. We had prepared a very long slideshow , showcasing her life and memories. Oh god, the tears... Nobody was spared! lol. But it was so great to enjoy that moment with her in person instead of after she was gone. Beat the hell out of planning for funeral expenses other than cremation, which is what she wanted.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by ua_guy View Post
        All her accounts were already signed over, all paperwork in order.
        Don't overlook the financial stuff. Make all accounts either Transfer on Death/Payable on Death or Joint or Named Beneficiary if applicable. Spend the money for a Revocable Living Trust so that everything doesn't have to go through Probate when you die. Much of the stuff I'm dealing with currently is because my cousin chose not to do that even though his lawyer urged him to. We haven't personally done it yet but I've already told DW that as soon as I have his estate settled, we're meeting with our attorney to set up a trust for us.
        Steve

        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

        Comment


          #5
          I was thinking along the lines of a big PDF with images and accounts of important milestone events along with relevant pictures from the event and pictures of the artifacts. It can all go into a small box, along with the paper items (diplomas, marriage docs) that can be thrown out or destroyed by the next of kin. At least the PDF will have a copy of documents along with why they were important to you. "This is one of the first pictures I took with my Kodak Disc camera, look at how terrible the image quality is, but you could imagine my excitement using it!"

          Items of value, like coins and jewelry, should definitely have some sort of conditions or instructions attached. such as "If someone offers you less than $250 for this, you're being robbed!" or "Please consider keeping this in the family, unless you fall on hard times, because it is worth a lot."

          The whole point here is that you'll be providing the means for someone to get an accurate view of you, without having to guess or piece together questionable artifacts. Who knows, maybe your great-great-grandchildren will be curious to learn more. What a great gift!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by ua_guy View Post
            I haven't searched, but it feels like there would be an opportunity to write a book about "How to die in an organized way". Maybe there already is one, who knows.
            Look up "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning".
            Steve

            * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
            * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
            * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

            Comment


              #7
              I'm going to have one heck of a mess for somebody to deal with if I happen to check out ahead of time.
              Have not done a darned thing in this regard. Biggest hassle for somebody will be dealing with all of the taxidermy which I've accumulated but doesn't have much if any resale value.

              Probably should prepay some funerals for starters.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Fishindude77 View Post
                I'm going to have one heck of a mess for somebody to deal with if I happen to check out ahead of time.
                Have not done a darned thing in this regard. Biggest hassle for somebody will be dealing with all of the taxidermy which I've accumulated but doesn't have much if any resale value.

                Probably should prepay some funerals for starters.
                Honestly, having recently gone through the process, the funeral was the least of the issues. That was pretty simple and straightforward. It's the STUFF that is the problem, even stuff that IS of value.

                I just called two different charities about donating all of the furniture. One said they are too busy and wouldn't be able to accept it. The other said they are booking pick ups 5-6 weeks out at this time. Our realtor has someone who is able to come on Monday for at least some of it. We'll see if he can take it all.
                Steve

                * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                  I just called two different charities about donating all of the furniture. One said they are too busy and wouldn't be able to accept it. The other said they are booking pick ups 5-6 weeks out at this time. Our realtor has someone who is able to come on Monday for at least some of it. We'll see if he can take it all.
                  You could probably list it for free on FB marketplace and it would be taken. I hear there is a shortage of furniture since the pandemic - new & used.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by moneybags View Post

                    You could probably list it for free on FB marketplace and it would be taken. I hear there is a shortage of furniture since the pandemic - new & used.
                    No thanks. People are way too unreliable on marketplace. And I wouldn't want a bunch of strangers coming in and moving furniture. Too much risk of stuff getting damaged.
                    Steve

                    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      My sisters & I created a document where we listed items belonging to our mom that we consider "treasures" and then we asked her to start gifting those items to us at birthdays and Christmas instead of buying gifts for us. Mom got on board with the idea and has just asked her recently-turned-adult grandchild to identify her treasures.

                      Mom has been pretty surprised at what we selected. If she had picked things for us, I doubt she would have picked the things that we want. I picked a piece of art, and she laughed about "that cheap thing" and I explained that I like it and it holds a special place in my heart because of where it hangs in her house. She has more expensive pieces that don't mean anything to me from a sentimental standpoint.

                      And the adult grandchild? She wants a stuffed bear that I think my mom got free for spending $xxx dollars at a department store one holiday season!

                      I think it has warmed my mom's heart to see her family making their choices and explaining the reasons.

                      (This is not to say that there won't still be a mess for me to contend with some day. There will be! And it will be a real doozy. But I'll be able to move with a bit more speed not worrying about having something go into the estate sale that a family member really wants.)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        What a great idea, scfr.
                        Steve

                        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                        Comment

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