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Talking to your kids about your stuff

Written by Diane Archer

There are so many important conversations for families to have as parents and children get older. A lot of these discussions can be enriching, even if they are not easy. The New York Times recently published a story about the difficulties children often have talking about what will become of their parents’ possessions when they downsize and at the end of life. Parents also can introduce the conversation. Here are five tips for talking to your children about your stuff.

  1. Decide whether you want to bring the whole family together for the conversation or want to talk to your kids one-on-one. And, then set aside some time to go through your possessions with your loved ones individually or collectively. You might want to let your kids know where a particular piece came from or who gave it to you. It can be fun to hear and learn about the family history.
  2. Keep in mind that talking about your possessions also can be stressful. It can conjure up all kinds of feelings and emotions. And, it can cause conflicts among siblings. Two kids might want the same possession. Let your kids know what you’d like them to have.
  3. Ask your kids whether there are items they’d like.
  4. Understand that your kids may not want the items you hoped they would take, even if you give these items special meaning and importance. The kids may not have room for them, even if they have a big basement. Or, they may have different taste from yours.
  5. If you’re moving to a smaller place, you might consider giving items your kids don’t want to friends or to charity. Or, you can try to sell them. There are professionals who can help you sort through your stuff and decide which items you want to keep. They can charge as much as $5,000 for their services, but they take responsibility for selling stuff either through an estate sale, an auction or online. And, with their help, you can empty your home quickly.

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