You don’t have to be dying to want to sort out the stuff that will inevitably have to be thrown out, sold off, or given away when you die. Margareta Magnusson has written a book on “the gentle art of Swedish death cleaning”, with practical lessons on how to deal with your earthly possessions. Some things of value that you no longer need can be given away now, especially if you are downsizing to a smaller living space or you are too old to wear or use the thing.
The Covid-19 lockdown is an excellent opportunity to get your house in order, to discuss with your children and grandchildren if they are interested in having any of your possessions now or in the future. Don’t be surprised if they don’t want any of it. But if there is something special they would like one day, then make a list so all members of the family know what will end up where. If there are going to be fights over who gets what then have them now, not when you are our of the picture and can’t referee. Contentious items can be sold and the proceeds can be shared equitably.
We are not burdened with the need to own lots of things, so there won’t be much of a material nature to divvi up. Still, we are collectors and our collections will have to be dispersed eventually. I don’t have to decide about my collection of knitting yarns and every manner of craft-like item and tool. They can go straight to charities and randomly find new homes. My husband’s huge Jazz collection is another matter entirely.
Along with its personal value the Jazz collection has significant market value. During the 30’s through to the 60’s, artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane delivered the best in modern jazz. Blue Note, Verve and Prestige were prominent record labels. This very special collection has become important to me if only because it is very important to him. To honour him it would have to go to the right home. He would have to choose it, not me, not the children. And so he made the call. Upon his death the entire collection will be donated to the Jazzworks Music Institute in Brisbane.
Make decisions about your possessions NOW, not on your death bed. Your family will be distraught enough when you die, don’t make it harder for them.