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  • Carol Ann Guarino

Can’t Take it With You


Another birthday just passed for me; another year older. Speaking of passed….


Not an easy subject to talk about but something everyone should address; what to do with all the “stuff” we collect over a lifetime. While we may have our important papers in order, our wills, financial documents, legal and medical documents, what about everything else?


It’s never too early to start thinking and planning out your own wishes but what about your parents? Do you know their wishes? Do they have a home full of furnishings, collections, and memories? It’s a hard conversation to have but avoiding it can lead to confusion about their final wishes as well as misunderstandings and hostility among family members. They may have collected a lifetimes worth of stuff…where will it go when they’re gone? If your parents or grandparents are downsizing as they age it is a good time to not only talk about their wishes but also recommend an organizer to help sort through their belongings so they keep what they love and designate a place for things they may want to gift, donate or get rid of.


Your parents or grandparents may be saving things to pass down that may not be wanted by family members (or kept after their passing purely out of guilt). Case in point, my grandmother kept her organ well after she was able to see well to read music (she lived to 102!). I didn’t realize it at the time but she was saving it for me. I had taken piano lessons when I was young and she assumed I would love to play the organ. Needless to say, I kept the organ for a few years…. sitting unused in my home, taking up space, but I kept it out of guilt. I finally donated it to a church that was in need.


I’ve told my kids that when I pass, all of my belongings will fit in one suitcase (ok, maybe two). You may want to consider what you have collected over the years and start scaling down yourself. Even if you’re not a “collector”, you’d be surprised at what you own after 10-20 years. Remember, your kids may not appreciate your sixth-grade swimming trophies as much as you but they will appreciate your wishes written down so there’s no confusion. The point is, start a conversation. It will probably be easier than you think, it will answer all of those questions and save a lot of misunderstandings.

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