SLM Leave it for the Kids to Deal With scaled
SLM Leave it for the Kids to Deal With scaled

In twenty years I have often heard “They will carry me out in a box!”

I then ask, ” What about all the STUFF you have accumulated?”

Their reply often is, “I’ll let my children deal with it.”

WELL, I have been working on several estates lately and in homes where parents have had to move to a Retirement Residence or a Long Term Care Facility.  The parents had collected many things and had thrown out very little including bags of plastic bags, used and broken light bulbs, empty jars and margarine containers….You can imagine what I have seen. Yes even numerous dead mice and some live ones.

With little exception, the children have been overwhelmed, frustrated with the decisions of what to keep, sell, donate and discard. Most have felt angry that their parent(s) would leave them with the enormous mess. Most of the children had full lives with jobs and families and many have lived hours away.

Parent don’t realize that although they have tried to be wonderful parents and done many things with and for their children that often the last and freshest memory is a bad one not a good one.  Often they do a hundred things right and the one bad emotional experience is what people remember most.

The other consideration is the friction between siblings over “dealing” with the residence. As a parent, I desire that my children have a good relationship when I am gone. We have seen 5 children hire 5 lawyers to deal with a family home. They were not talking with each other. Things do often bring out the worst in people and even in close families. Some feel a sibling didn’t carry their weight with what needed to be done.

So my advice:

Parents – Deal with your stuff while you are alive.

Children: Have the “hard conversation”. Mention that you have been talking with someone or you read an article and say “Let’s make sure this doesn’t  happen in our family.”