Tuesday, April 15, 2014

trust and stuff


Yesterday we, Mary and I, met with an estate planning attorney to get a new trust established to deal with the consequences of our inevitable demise.  The meeting ran smoothly and most of our questions were answered, so now all that’s left is the paperwork.

But it all seems so trivial.  Here we are, deciding what to do with all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the past 45 years.  Stuff that has meaning and value, both fiscal and emotional, to us, but, except for rare instances, means squat to our heirs.  By designating certain objects to go to particular individuals, we are hoping that they will cherish and appreciate them as we did and add to the continuum of family heirlooms.  At the same time I know that styles change, taste and sophistication change, and our valued stuff becomes their trash.  In trying to do right by them, we will have burdened them with the task of disposal of all our treasures that they don’t want and probably won’t need. 

I think a better way to do this is to let them take whatever they want and agree on and sell the rest or donate what might be useful to others.  Selling as much as possible puts more money in the kitty to be divided among them and relieves them of the burden of accepting stuff they don’t want.  Of course, all this conjecturing assumes that Mary and I are going to drop dead at the same time, and real soon, before we have the chance to use all those assets by living too long.

What I hope we can pass on to our children and grandchildren, that will mean more than all the stuff, is our value system and sense of respect for others. The intangibles that we leave them with, our living example of how to conduct a good life, are our most prized possessions.  How can we put that into the trust?

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