My sister has been helping my dad clear out his home since my mother’s death two years ago. I have to say, she has found some interesting things, like my mother’s diary from when she was 16, and some very quirky things, like the shoe shine brush in the shape of a penguin.
It got me to thinking…what will happen to all my stuff when I’m gone?
If that were to happen tomorrow, would my children be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have? Would they end up throwing everything out because it would take too long to go through it all?
I started to look at each memento and tried to asses what my kids would definitely not want to inherit from me and how I could ensure that they kept the things that really matter, even if they don’t think they are important at first.
What is the legacy I want to leave behind?
Going through my mother’s things, my first instinct has been to keep everything and distribute it among my siblings. It’s hard to get rid of anything because these items all hold a strong connection for me to my mother.
A lot of things have made their way to my house. But unfortunately, most of the items have been stashed away in closets, the attic and the basement. Safely tucked away for the next generation after me to deal with.
What if that cycle continues? That would mean that three generations down the line from me would be saddled with a lot of baggage with probably no idea why they have all this stuff.
I don’t want that to happen. Excess possessions are a burden. And it’s definitely not one I want to leave my children or their children. I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard going through all the excess. Especially things that have memories for me attached to them. But I must be ruthless.
5 Things Your Kids Don’t Want To Inherit From You
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1. Photo Albums
Without a word of a lie, my mother has at least 100 large photo albums. I have 50 of my own in addition to that. When you take into account that the average number of times a person moves in their lifetime is 11.7, those photo albums are going to be a major pain in the ass. Not to mention that my sister has just found a suitcase full of negatives. I’m not even sure my kids would know what the hell those things are!
A lot of those photo albums from my mother, make up a part of our family history, all the way back to the old country. They are super interesting and if my children ever want to trace their roots, it would be a shame if all these photos were lost due to a move.
The only way to make sure they get passed down and kept, is to convert them to a form that the next generation understands and uses. That means converting all the images to digital form. It will take us a long time to do but once transferred and labeled to USB sticks or memory cards, at least the images will be safe and easily transportable.
I am using a Photo Scanner scanner and Negative Scanner to transfer the images to my flash drive. Removing the images from those peel & stick pages, making sure the images are clean and positioning them on the scanner bed is exhausting! If you are going to do this yourself too, I suggest dedicating an hour a week till you are done. Schedule the time in your planner and set an alarm for when to stop. Trust me with this. If you try to do too much at once, you will make a mess, hate the process and give up!
I am not completely ready to toss the photos I’ve transferred so for now, once they’ve been removed from the albums, I put them into Clear Plastic Photo Cases and labeled them using my Label Maker. They take up a lot less room plus they’re protected. Win-win.
For those of you for whom this task just seems very over-whelming, there are many companies that can do the transferring for you. Do your research for local businesses as well as mail-in options online. Prices very greatly but it may be worth it to you to go this route instead.
2. China and Collectibles
Or as I call them, dustibles. Honestly, I’m not telling you to throw out anything that brings you joy. I do believe that at our age, we should finally be able to decorate our homes the way we want without fear the kids will ruin it! Lol But…be aware that your children may not have the same attachment to your things as you do and if your collections are important to you, ask, without judgement, who would want them.
Personally, I know I would much rather give my vintage tea cups to a friend or organization that will get as much joy as I did from them, then my boys who will probably cart them off to the nearest donation centre without a second thought.
I have no delusions, being the mom of boys, that they won’t want any of my girly stuff. I have pared my collectibles down and I have made a list of what goes to whom after I discerned the friends that would want them. I think it’s special to allow your besties to have something from you too.
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My mother was the shopping queen. She had 3 closets stuffed with beautiful clothes. It was a shame that not one of us girls could fit into them. But we didn’t want to donate them to second hand stores. Instead, we found a few women’s shelters that were accepting donations of business attire appropriate for job interviews. It felt good to know that my mom’s clothes helped women in need.
If you love clothes, you may have closets stuffed to the brim too. Unfortunately, style is a very personal thing and chances are, your kids won’t keep any of your clothes except for maybe a favourite sweater or slippers to remember you by. Why not pop a note in your closet with a list of places that could use your clothes to better other women’s lives. Your kids will appreciate the suggestions.
And if you still have your wedding dress or your children’s christening outfits in the back of your closet, make sure they are boxed and labeled to ensure they aren’t pitched in a massive purge.
The last time I visited my 98 year old uncle in Florida, he asked me what will happen to his beloved books when he is gone. Proudly, he told me he has 687. He has a thing with numbers. I strained not to say, “Throw them out.”
But seriously, what the heck will I do with them? Certainly I can’t bring them on the plane ride home with me can I? So, I asked him if there were any special books that he would definitely want someone in the family to have. We put those on a separate shelf and puts notes inside the books to whom they should be gifted to.
We also discussed places we could contact to donate his non-English books. Most ethnic communities have their own libraries and resource centres. My uncle is very pleased with where his books will go and I will try my hardest to fulfil his wishes.
If you have a large book collection, be sure to separate and label the books that hold either a monetary or sentimental value. Your kids won’t know what’s important unless you tell them!
A few years back, I would have been mortified of the thought of someone seeing my financial situation. I’m sure my executor would have been in complete shock and very frustrated by the huge, disorganized mess. Thankfully I have worked really hard to get my money and budget in order so that my children won’t have to deal with it.
If you’re still breathing, there’s still time to improve your financial situation, for your future, God willing, and in the event of your passing. Funerals and estate taxes can be crippling. You want to make sure that you at the very least, don’t add to your children’s liability.
Get your paperwork in order. Get a clear snapshot of your finances. Set goals and pay down your debt. And please, get a will drawn up. You don’t want the state coming in and handling your affairs when you are gone. You wouldn’t like that now and you certainly don’t want that when you are gone.
I know it is a little morbid to think about what will happen when you die, but it is important and I dare say, it will eventually happen. Leave your family with fond memories not hassles. Understand and accept that your children will not want to inherit some of your things and make contingency plans to ensure that the things that are of value, are recognized and dealt with accordingly. Leave a legacy that you are proud of and that will benefit generations to come.