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The Duty to Discard


I have settled estates and administered many trusts, as well as doing the estate planning for maybe a thousand people, but I will now add a new rule to estate planning – the Duty to Discard.  It is indeed a duty of each person.

No parent wants their children to fight among themselves, much less over minor possessions.  However, some of the kids will become angry with other siblings over who gets things like Mom’s favorite clock or Dad’s favorite shotgun.  There are ways to prevent this.

Every possession is not a priceless treasure.

No parent wants the child’s pain of losing a parent to be greater than necessary.  Yet, aren’t you making it more difficult if your children have to decide whether to keep Dad’s old military uniform or Mom’s photo album of her trip to California . . . or whether to discard those items.  If kept, they will just remain in a storage unit for the life of the child, when a grandchild must decide what to keep or discard. 

Also, do you want to add guilt to the grief your children feel?  If discarding your old uniform suggests the child will think less often about you, does that mean they will never think about you without the uniform?  Of course not, every kid walks around with a thousand memories in their head.  They don’t need the myriad trinkets collected over a lifetime to remember you.  They will never forget you, regardless of the trinkets.

Every possession is not a priceless heirloom.

When I do your estate planning, I will ask about your plan to discard unnecessary possessions.  It is my duty to ask.  It is your duty to make it easier for your kids, not tougher.  Losing a parent is hard enough without all these unnecessary complications!

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