The biggest challenge is when the children walk into their parents’ homes feeling completely overwhelmed by the accumulation of “stuff.” Because this generation rarely threw anything away, the children are left to dissolve the estate often with consequences.
Among the myriad of bread twister ties, Cool Whip containers, pie tins and peanut butter jars, you will find accumulations that are amazing. Paper and plastic abound, as do clothing items, collections, newspapers, magazines, catalogs and 50+ years of National Geographic.
But somewhere deep down in that accumulation are treasures, take it from one who has saved a $5,000 turn-of-the-century Louis Vuitton trunk from the dumpster or $100,000 painting on its way to Good Will. Most children do not know the truth worth of their parent’s home’s contents. What they believed to be of value, due to generations of family stories, is often inflated and inaccurate. By the same token, items the children feel are “junk” are often worth far more than they ever realized.
Such was the case when I recently walked through a home with the executor. There were a few laundry baskets piled high with stuff and I asked him what these baskets were. He simply replied that the items in the baskets were going to Goodwill because everything in them was “ugly.” It didn’t take me but a moment to recognize the extremely rare vases sitting on top of a pile. “This vase may be ugly to you, but it’s worth at least $25,000. Are you sure you want it to go to Goodwill now?” I said with a smile on my face. Several weeks later, both vases sold for nearly $60,000.. It pays to know what you have before you dispose of it in any manner. You just never know what you’re going to find!
Have you ever found a treasure in the belongings of someone who has passed away? What was it and what did you do with it? Have you ever found a treasure at an estate sale?