Let’s be real, we all hold onto things we think would be nice to pass onto our kids. We started this tradition even at a young age with toys that we were attached to but had outgrown. Yet, as you set out to plan who gets what in the will, there are 10 things your kids likely do not want. They may be too kind to say as much, so you might want to consider an alternative for those items you have been saving. An article from NextAvenue “Your Top 10 Objects Your Kids Don’t Want” by Elizabeth Stewart, author of ‘No Thanks Mom’, outlines the objects your kids do not want and what you can do with them.
Number 10 – Books: If your adult kids are not professors, they do not want your books. Unless they staked a claim already, then likely they are hoping not to be left with them.
Don’t mistake real value for sentimental value. 17th-century books are usually theological or grammar-based. These are not rare. Unless you have a full valuable set, most 19th-century books are probably in bad condition and also not valuable.
Before putting these books in a yard sale, you can put the title, author, year of publication, and publisher in a search engine to get background information. If anything good comes up, call a book antiquarian. Stewart recommends Biblio.com.
Number 9 – Paper Ephemera: Paper ephemera consists of things like family snapshots, old greeting cards and postcards. Old greeting cards are not valuable, unless a famous artist crafted them or they were sent by someone like Jackie O. Post cards are not valuable unless their stamp holds value.
Instead of tossing (recycling!) the family snapshots that hold value for you, have them made into digital files and put on a hard drive. Then you can pass this on to your heirs and they will have only one object added to their collection. These old snapshots can also be sold to greeting card publishers or given to an image archive business like Getty.
Number 8 – Steamer Trunks, Sewing Machines and Film Projects: A good majority of families likely have a steamer trunk from the 19th century. Since they are so common, they are not valuable, unless Louis Vuitton, Asprey, Goyard or another famous luggage house, made them. Also common in family collections are old sewing machines and projectors for home movies. Yet, most thrift stores carry these items, so they are not of value.
All of these items should just be donated without a second thought.
Number 7 – Porcelain Figurine Collections and Bradford Exchange “Cabinet” Plates: Your kids do not desire any of these collections of frogs, clowns, horses, bells, ladies in big gowns, babies, Precious Moments etc. Nor do your grandchildren or other relations wish to have them. For 20-30 somethings, these would just be clutter. They also have no market value.
The solution is to find a retirement home that does Christmas gift exchanges and donate the figurines. If they hold a precious memory for you, you can always have a professional photographer take a well-lit photo of them. Collector’s plates should be donated to a retirement community, as they will not sell.
Number 6 – Silver-Plated Objects: Your adult children will not polish the silver. The only exceptions might be silver-plated items from noteworthy manufacturers like Tiffany, Asprey, or Cristofle etc. The best solution here is to either give these items away to someone who wants them or to a place that would use them.
Number 5 – Heavy, Dark, Antique Furniture: Unless the furniture is mid-century modern, you will likely have to pay someone to take it off your hands or you’ll receive less than a quarter of the purchase price selling it on consignment. Instead, you should donate it and take the non-cash charitable contribution using fair market valuation. Check into reporting services like P4A.com to find where this class of furniture will sell.
Number 4 – Persian Rugs: Generally the décor of millennials does not mesh with Persian rugs that are multicolored and sometimes threadbare. The best thing to do with these, if they are rare or valued over $2000 is to look into the high-end market that still collects them in certain parts of the U.S. They are one of the more difficult things to sell these days, so consider just donating it.
Number 3 – Linens: Try offering to send your daughter even one box of hand embroidered pillowcases, guest towels, napkins, and table linens. She’ll politely reject. She certainly doesn’t set the kind of table those linens would create, and she may not even own an ironing board (it is all about small personal steamers now). Reach out to needlewomen instead who hand makes things like Christening clothes, wedding dresses etc. Or you can donate the linens to theater costume shops and deduct the donation.
Number 2 – Sterling Silver Flatware and Crystal Wine Services: Matching sets of silverware are hard to sell because they tend not to go for “antique” value, unless their scrap value is high enough for meltdown. Since formal entertaining is not a priority and dishwashers are, could you see your kids choosing to use the silver or crystal, let alone hand wash it?
You can look on Replcements.com, a matching service, and try to sell your silver piece by piece to folks who are working to complete their sets. With the crystal, unless it has name value like Lalique, Baccara, Steuben, or Moser, you will want to give away your set.
Number 1 – Fine Porcelain Dinnerware: Likely, your adult children will not want to store any fancy dinnerware, nor will they want to take the time to unpack it and repack it once a year for a holiday or event. Think back to the last time any of your children used a saucer or fish service. Like with the silver, look into a replacement matching service and sell those off piece by piece.
While it can be a hard reality to accept that your collections don’t fit into your children’s world of Marie Condo’s decluttering advice, it is best to find alternative ways to disperse these items. As you flush out your will and decide what to do with your collections, consult your estate planning attorney. It is also a good idea to get the family together to discuss frankly what people do and don’t want. At Family Estate Law Planning Group, we have a unique process that involves a Family Meeting where families can have the necessary discussions to make sure everyone is on the same page about everyone’s wishes.
For more information on the Family Meeting and other estate planning topics, visit our website and schedule your consultation today!
Reference: NextAvenue (Feb 15, 2018) “Your Top 10 Objects Your Kids Don’t Want”