One of the best ways to minimize fighting amongst your family after you’re gone is by creating a “special stuff” list before you go.
Creating a “Special Stuff” List Can Minimize Fighting Amongst Your Family After You’re Gone
Last week, we talked about having “The Conversation” with your kids and how it can really increase the chances that things will go as planned after you’re gone. This week we are really excited to offer you a special resource that will help you decide who should get what special possessions and heirlooms! (Keep reading for the FREE resource.)
Many families fight over the personal property “stuff” as much as they fight over money. (Sometimes even more than they fight over money.) When it comes to preventing a big fight after you die, it’s not enough to deal with the financial items. You must deal with property that has emotional or family value.
Because of this, I encourage clients to create a “special stuff list” that directs certain items to the people they want those items to go to. This list, which is officially called a Memorandum for Distribution of Personal Property, is then incorporated into the Will or Living Trust.
7 Things to Consider When Making Your “Special Stuff” List
1. What did your parents or grandparents pass down to you that you want to pass on?
2. What items bring back the most memories of your family time?
3. Have you discussed with family what they might want? Some families have a “lottery” style selection process where they openly discuss item by item what they may want. Others prepare a “fire inventory” list of their belongings and then send copies to their children, requesting that the children mark the items they want on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being they want that item the most. Once the children return their lists to the parents, the parents can then more adequately assess who will get what.
4. How will you preserve the stories behind the items? Write out the story, record a video or audio clip about it. Even a few short sentences will mean a lot when you’re gone.
5. Don’t rely on Post-it notes, masking tape, or assumptions, “The kids know who gets what.” This just doesn’t work!
6. Make sure your “special stuff” list or letter is signed and dated, with copies sent to your attorney. Also keep copies with your Will or Living Trust paperwork.
7. In order to better identify items, take photos and include them with your “special stuff” list.
A Few More Things to Consider…
While creating your list, don’t assume the things you find valuable will be the same things your family finds valuable. It’s always better to communicate about what you want to leave, and to whom, beforehand. Maybe you want your granddaughter to have your birthstone earrings, but maybe she’d rather have the old battered, blue pottery bowl that you used to make pudding in together. You might never know the bowl was meaningful to her without a conversation, and you might even throw it out without any consideration, thinking, “Nobody’ll want this ol’ thing.”
It’s very difficult to see families torn apart by issues like who gets Grandma’s yellow pie plate? Our firm is always seeking ways to make planning easier for you, and we are really excited about this resource: Your “Special Stuff” List Worksheet. Set aside an afternoon to spend going through the worksheet line by line, and you should be well on your way to making sure your family will still be speaking to each other after you’re gone.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 217-726-9200. We will be more than happy to help you in any way possible.