By Debra King
Are you looking forward to the day when your kids take all your stuff?
Don’t hold your breath. Your kids may be far less excited to inherit your things than you were when you were their age. Instead of viewing it as a blessing, they may see it as a curse.
I see it every day when I visit my clients. They’ve lived in their homes for many decades. The living room, the dining room, the bookshelves, the China cabinet, and the garage—they’re all filled with stuff. Furniture inherited from older relatives, handmade quilts, wedding presents, gifts from children over the years, and pictures on the wall; they’re all there.
I’ve seen the children of these clients faced with the prospect of cleaning out these houses after their parents have been moved to a facility or they’ve passed away. These parents may have thought their kids would be excited to have most of these things, but the reality is much different. The kids don’t want this stuff, and figuring out what to do with it creates a huge burden.
Kids today are passing on all those big, heavy, and dark antique furniture pieces because they don’t fit into today’s more streamlined households. They don't want all those collections of Precious Moments figurines, Beanie Baby stuffed toys, or the piles of books. They don’t want the lawn and garden equipment in the garage when they can go out and buy things new at Lowes. The kids often don’t even want things that might have some monetary value, such as the China and the silver, because they’re no room to store things they will practically never use.
I know this from experience. I have my mother's silver set, and it stays in the buffet except for a few times a year when we bring it out for the holidays. No one I know has the kinds of Sunday dinners or fancy meals that we had when I was young, so the fancy dinnerware items rarely make it to the table. I have glass and China bowls from my grandmother that I took from her estate sale because they had sentimental value. Those things sit in a box, wrapped in packing material. Today’s younger people—such as my daughter—have even less patience for keeping things they’ll never use.
Even antique dealers saying no to family heirlooms because they simply don’t sell. Yard and garage sales are where these items often end up, often selling for pennies on the dollar. My husband and I often go to garage sales. If we could figure out something to do with the big old fat computer monitors that we used to have or the giant TVs, we could make a fortune. There’s at least one or two of those at every garage sale we visit.
It may seem harsh, but ultimately, everything you own is clutter. If your house needs to be cleaned out in a short amount of time, which is often the case if you end up moving into long-term care or pass away, this task will fall to your family. So, if you’re getting up there in years and your house is stuffed to the gills, do your kids a favor. Start getting rid of stuff now. Your kids will appreciate your thoughtfulness far more than that console stereo from 1974 or that 1,000-item Beanie Baby collection.