November 01, 2010

Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate?

Lately I have had a number of people tell me they are dealing with the estate of elderly parents or other relatives. The big question they have is, “What should I do with all the stuff?”

 We can sort and donate clothing and most household goods, but if specific instructions aren’t given for the things a person owned, how does the family respect his or her intentions?

When you draw up a will, you usually think about real estate, bank accounts and big-ticket items. What about personal items that may have monetary value, but often are sentimental pieces? If you want your loved ones to know what you want done with your things, let them know now.

I am often called on to give people permission to let go of things they have been given but don’t want. Wouldn’t you rather have your things go to someone who wants them? Putting your wishes in writing will make it easier for family members and your executor to make decisions about your estate.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service created "Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? Workbook: A Guide To Passing on Personal Possessions" to encourage conversation about future wishes and to allow the opportunity to share stories about family history. In addition, their hope is to avoid family conflicts when more than one person expects to inherit something.

To learn more about the project, and to view free articles about starting a conversation, visit the Web site

How can you start to collect stories about things you own or about family history? Do you have a way to let family members know what you want when you’re gone? Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

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