I have a beautiful old clock in the garage. I bought it for $200 in 1973. The last time I fixed it up, a few years ago, the guy said to me, “This is a museum piece!” He said it was worth thousands. But my wife won’t even let him in the house. And leave it to my children? Ha. There is a joke. They think it’s an old junk.
My wife has an old cooler. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture, made of oak, and it weighs a ton. Someone should value this piece of furniture too. But no one does, except us.
|my old clock|
We have a friend who recently downsized his huge farmhouse to an 1800 square foot one story home. His former barn, now owned by his son, is littered with discarded furniture. The son doesn’t want any of that. He wants the barn cleared so he can use the space for his equipment. None of his other children want it either. So they’re agonizing over what to do with things. Sell it? Give it away? A lot of it will undoubtedly end up in the junkyard.
It’s a shame, but there are many things that our children do not want.
And it’s not just our old furniture. There was a story last week in our local newspaper. Marvin Frederick, 81, has spent his entire life running his butcher shop at a local farmers’ market. He wants to retire. He has two grown children, but neither wants to take over the store. And the man can’t sell the store either. He is asking $850,000 for the business, which includes all the equipment, the recipes, his client list, and is willing to provide a month of free training. But so far, there are no buyers. “It’s hard work,” he admits. “You have to be someone who isn’t afraid to work.”
Children don’t want your business, they don’t want your prized antiques, they probably don’t even want your property. The house, especially if it is a second home, can cause all kinds of headaches, especially if there are a lot of expenses and maintenance issues involved. Arguments and hurt feelings can cause serious divisions if property is divided among multiple family members. Timeshares only compound the problem, as getting out of a timeshare can be difficult and time consuming.
I think the only lesson we need to learn is to use our stuff and not worry about “saving it for the kids.” So don’t worry if a precious piece of furniture is scratched, or if you break a cup or plate and you no longer have a complete set of dishes. You are enjoying these things, appreciating them for what they are and the pleasure they bring to your life. So if the kids don’t want those things, at least you’ve enjoyed them, which is why you got them in the first place.
Leaving an inheritance to our children can be a blessing, something they will continue to treasure in the future as we have in the past. But that’s only if they really want it. Do we really believe that our children want our old boat, an old car, or the china set we inherited from Aunt Alice? And for God’s sake, don’t leave them a storage room full of old furniture, clothes and sports equipment.
|my coin collection|
Our children will surely not object to inheriting money. But even an IRA or 401K can cause difficulties. These assets are not necessarily easy to transfer. The rules are complicated and there may be emotional issues involved. If it’s a substantial amount of money, it’s worth the effort; but otherwise it can cause nothing but trouble.
The best thing to leave our heirs is cash or financial assets that are as close to cash as possible: publicly traded stocks or bonds, certificates of deposit, or bank accounts. Or, go ahead and make an exception with the storage locker. . . but only if that old piece of furniture is full of hundred dollar bills.
Then I do not know. Do you think my kids will want my old coin collection that has gone into the guest room closet? After all, it is effective!
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