Hiring a personal property appraiser may cost a little upfront, but should be considered an inexpensive insurance policy that you are not giving away items that are worth a fortune. It happens more than you know. The same is true for mom and dad if they would like to know the values ahead of time to help them decide what heirlooms should be given and what they are worth in order to keep their choices financially equitable among their heirs. This in turn will help minimize future fighting as well, because mom and dad have made their decisions and siblings should respect their choices. Ultimately, this issue is about honoring mom and dad’s final wishes, and has little to do with what we want. Sometimes our parents do not want to make these choices because they are afraid they will upset their children. And so, we have a continuing cycle that will not get broken unless someone changes the pattern.
In my work of helping seniors and their children by appraising the worth of their personal property or liquidating it, I see examples of unsavory human behavior during the process sometimes from family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. In dealing with a lifetime of accumulation, seniors are often at a vulnerable place in their lives and daunted by the task. Remember that the face of exploitation is often a familiar face and it can happen right under your own nose. This is when vultures appear driven by insensitive greed and persuasive powers. These unscrupulous mischief-makers could be stopped dead in their tracks if only the senior (and their children) had the knowledge of how much their personal property was worth and if they had proactively written down on a master list what they perceived to be treasurers – either sentimental or financial.
By writing down these items, then assigning the names to each item for distribution now or at their death, this act would be the most empowering act they could possibly do in addition to having an up-to-date will and other legal documents. This master list should be kept safely with the will. Note: Do not use stickers on the bottom of items. Eventually, they fall off due to drying out and also some unscrupulous people will do the old “switch-a-roo.”
Have you noticed any of your belongings that a specific child in your family is particularly fond of? Have you discussed that with your parents? Is there any item in your parent’s belonging that you would cherish?