Baby Boomers fretting over what will happen to all their belongings when they die have good reason to worry. Millennial offspring in large numbers are shunning their parents’ and grandparents’ precious furniture, household goods and collections.
Instead of being insulted, experts suggest that Boomers be proactive. Don’t wait until poor health or a financial emergency hits. Downsizing possessions can be cleansing, freeing up time for travel, exercise or other leisure pursuits.
Let’s talk. While still in good health, have a conversation with your offspring. Ask them what items they would like to inherit. Keep a list or stick a label on the back of items with the name of the intended recipient.
Sell it now. Unwanted items, particularly those with considerable value, can be sold. Money from the sales will bolster the retirement nest egg.
Get real. Have realistic expectations about the value of your items. Secondary markets are being flooded with the furniture and belongings of Boomers. Prices on antique furniture have plummeted. Research prices on Ebay and other online sales sites, paying close attention to condition and closed-sales prices.
Go local. For larger items, check into selling on hyper-local sites such as Craigslist, dedicated Facebook selling groups, and apps such as OfferUp.
Go national. For smaller items that are easily shipped, try Ebay. Because of the larger audience, you can expect to get higher prices. Pass on shipping expenses to the seller.
Seek out experts. If you have rare artwork, books, furniture or collectibles, contact an auction house with expertise in selling such items. Higher sales prices will pay the commission fees.
The little stuff. Everyday household goods are best disposed of at a yard sale, tag sale or estate sale. Enlist the help of friends and family. As a last resort, hire a company. Get the terms in writing so you know what percentage the company will take off the top of the proceeds.
Trash, recycle and donate. Go through cupboards, closets and drawers. Be ruthless. Recycle magazines and newspapers, obsolete computer components and old televisions. Donate duplicate items, clothing that no longer fits and useful items you no longer want or need. Call a local charity to haul away large items.Throw away items that can’t be repaired. Shred paperwork.
Feeling overwhelmed? Look into hiring a “senior move manager” who can help retirees with downsizing decisions whether or not a move is involved. Check out the National Association of Senior Move Managers at NASMM.org.
Congratulate yourself. Instead of leaving your children and grandchildren with the burden of disposing of your belongings after your death, you’ve given them the gift of time to grieve your passing and celebrate your life.