Your kids don’t want your stuff! Can that be true?
July 3, 2018
It’s true – your kids don’t want your stuff. The conversation on personal property or stuff is a universal topic. I design my speaking engagements for the intended audience and recently spoke to a large group of older, retired adults still living in their own homes. I shared the research on the top 10 things kids DON’T want to inherit from their parents or relatives. The top 10 are: 1) Fine china and fancy porcelain dinnerware 2) Sterling silver flatware and crystal wine glasses 3) Linens 4) Persian rugs 5) Dark, heavy antique furniture 6) Anything silver-plated that must be polished 7) Figurines and collector plates 8) Trunks, sewing machines and film projectors 9) Paper items such as photos, greeting cards, postcards 10) Books I briefly introduced myself and explained my reasons for starting Strategic Hourglass Solutions and then asked my audience how many owned #1 – the fine china. More than 50% raised their hands with one woman shouting out that she had 3 sets of china. This one category generated lots of discussion and disbelief that their kids or grandkids just might not want the china. Discussing the category of sterling silver and crystal glasses also prompted many responses from the audience. By the time we reached the category of figurines and collector plates, the attendees were sharing their stories and their solutions to address this universal problem of ‘those kids today’ who don’t want grandma’s Hummel figurines or photo albums filled with pictures of people they don’t know. One gentleman in the audience has every item listed in #8 above, and is concerned, maybe even perplexed, about the disposition of his mother’s antique sewing machine if none of his children want it. In next week’s article, I’ll reveal solutions some of the attendees shared with the group. Although a difficult topic to discuss, light-hearted moments and laughter filled the room as some recalled humorous stories dealing with personal property. It is imperative to be prepared for the possibility that your kids don’t want your stuff. Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to educate others on the importance of Legacy Planning by starting the conversations on topics such as moving, downsizing, disability and death. Do you really want to burden your loved ones with dealing with all your stuff? Will your heirs disagree about the disposition of your stuff resulting in a permanent rift in the family? Does your family know the story behind a particular heirloom or have an appreciation of your figurine or plate collection? Do you know if your kids want your stuff? Please contact us to discuss scheduling a speaking engagement for your church, book club, or organization.
There can be humor involved when talking about death, dying and funerals!
June 26, 2018
Death, dying and funerals are a big part of Legacy Planning. Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to educate others on the importance of starting conversations about not only dying, but also moving, downsizing and disability. Moving can mean different things to different people. Maybe it’s a move to a warmer climate after retiring, or a single-story home to accommodate a now required walker or wheelchair. A move could also involve downsizing because with the kids grown and living many miles away, one no longer needs the large house and all the ‘stuff’.
At some point all of us will literally run out of time, so having your funeral arrangements documented is just one of the many ways to preserve your legacy. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I had this very conversation and I told her about how my book, Lifetime Legacy Planner, is a great tool for documenting your wishes so they are carried out with love and respect. She then shared the humorous story about her grandmother’s funeral. The passing of her grandmother was not a total surprise due to her age and health. The service, with its shining casket, lovely flowers and eloquent funeral eulogy, was beautiful. It wasn’t until weeks later with the reading of her grandmother’s will did the family discover she had wanted to be cremated. After a quick calculation of the unnecessary funeral expenses due to the casket and the preparation of the body, my friend laughingly commented: “Who knew? Obviously, no one!” If someone had the conversation with her grandmother about death, dying and funerals beforehand, they would have known.
Documenting your wishes is one way of preserving your legacy. Do you know where you’d want to live if you could no longer stay in your home? Do you have pictures or antiques or jewelry you’d want given to a certain relative or friend or organization? Do you want to be buried or cremated or your body donated to science? Have you ever talked with your family or loved ones about death, dying and funerals? So many questions to consider, but starting those conversations is one of the most loving and generous things you can do for your family and friends. What are you waiting for?
I thought I would inherit the house!
May 29, 2018
In most situations, it is assumed someone will inherit the house. As our parents age and are faced with the difficult decision of how long they are able to continue living in their home, there is always the question of what will happen to their house. It can be a shock to family members when they are made aware of the cost associated with mom and/or dad moving into a retirement community, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. At one of my speaking engagements in April, the cost of long-term care generated quite the discussion among the attendees. Prices vary depending on the type of care, but my audience was shocked to learn about the depletion of an entire estate in Boston due to three years of payments to a nursing home at the cost of $12,000 per month.
Luckily, the woman had a long-term care policy, but her nursing home costs still required the sale of her home and most of her possessions. It was unfortunate for this family when they realized no one would inherit the house. Having the conversation about Legacy Planning prior to needing to sale the family home or business is a loving and generous thing to do for your family and friends. It will help reduce the stress and confusion associated with a major life change.
Have you thought about where you’d want to live if you no longer could stay in your home? Would you want to live closer to your children? If the reason for the move is Alzheimer’s or dementia, do you have a power of attorney for finances and health care? Do you have a documented plan for your personal property, real estate or any other important possessions? Is your estate set up so your family will inherit the house?
How much is the cost of retirement?
May 22, 2018
According to a study released in 2017 by Merrill Lynch, the average cost of retirement is more than $700,000. When I mentioned this number at one of my recent speaking engagements, I had one gentleman announce to the group that if this is true, he would be homeless and living in a cardboard box on the streets. After that statement I didn’t have the heart to mention to the group that Fidelity Investments estimates health care and medical expenses alone will total $275,000 for the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017. I did some additional research and found a survey which said 55% of Americans have put away less than $10,000 for retirement. What? Is that true? I couldn’t help but think what the cost of retirement will be in 20 or 30 years when my nieces and nephews are approaching the age to retire. Are you prepared financially, emotionally, and spiritually for the cost of retirement? Do your family and friends know where to locate your investment, financial, medical and healthcare documents should you become unable to do so?
Why is it so hard talking about death?
May 8, 2018
When I bring up talking about death in my speaking engagements there’s always one or two people who swear they are not going to ever die, so there’s no need to have a conversation about it. This makes me smile and sad all at the same time. I smile because it brings back memories of my own father who passed away 9 years ago and was one of those ‘I’m going to live forever’ guys. Even when he was in the hospital during those final days before losing consciousness, he would talk about what he was going to do when he got back home. It makes me sad because talking about death is something that eventually we all face, and those who don’t want to talk about it are losing the opportunity to document their legacy.
Then there are those who want to talk about death and prepare for the inevitable, and it’s the family members who are in denial about the passing of their loved one. I recently heard the story from a friend about her high school classmate who was in the hospital and knew her time on this earth was short, so she wanted to document some thoughts/things in a video. She was talking about death. Because this made her family uncomfortable, they would change the subject and talk about happier things. Unfortunately, the woman passed away without ever sharing her stories or instructing her family of her final wishes for her funeral. What do you want your legacy to be and how do you want to be remembered?
Am I really this old already? That just can’t be right!
May 1, 2018
As we gathered last fall to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday, we had relatives flying in from all over the country. My mother was blessed with four sons and six daughters, and she came from a large family too, so it was a weekend of catching up with aunts, uncles and cousins we hadn’t seen in years. As I entertained some of the older cousins that weekend and our conversation drifted to the fact that most of us kids are now in our 60s, one cousin made a statement which resulted in laughter at first, but then the reality set in of what she had just said. Her comment was “I thought growing old would take longer!” It was quite humbling to realize we all were closer to the age of 70, than 50. Because several of us had lost siblings at much younger ages, we were thankful to be celebrating my mother’s 90th and proceeded to share stories and laughter of those much younger days when we thought we’d live forever. We also talked about how and where we’d want to ‘grow old’. Have you let others know your wishes? Do your loved ones know how you want your personal property distributed, where your insurance policies are located, what to do about your funeral services, who to contact in case of your death or any of your other personal information?