As uncomfortable as it is, there comes a time when each of us has to dispose of personal property left behind by a loved one who passes on. The process is one that can be especially painful if the timing is not right. Yet there is no formula to say when that right time is; you just have to feel it out and hope you’ll make the right decision.
In a best-case scenario, surviving family members are able to work together to handle estate matters in a way that makes it as comfortable and easy as possible. Any property specifically mentioned in a will is likely to be handled without issue, as is that property that automatically passes to survivors based on joint ownership. That only leaves personal property that was not specifically designated through some other means.
Unfortunately, this remaining property tends to be the most sensitive. Why? Because it also tends to be the most personal. We are talking about things like personal clothing, photographs and videos, family records, household items, and so one. These are the things that were forgotten when preparing the will because they were considered common, everyday items. Nevertheless, they still need to be dealt with in order to settle the estate.
Moving Too Soon
There are times when some surviving family members want to take care of personal property as quickly as possible, in order to put the grieving process behind them. And sometimes that’s okay. However, other times, moving to soon can cause additional grief that leads to fighting and bitterness. Sometimes it is just better to wait a while.
In cases where family members feel they have to move quickly, because the house needs to be sold or an apartment needs to be vacated, they do have other options. For example, they could hire a concierge service to pack everything up and move into a self-storage unit until such time as the family was ready to start going through the property.
There is really no way to tell for certain if you are moving too quickly. However, grief counselors suggest surviving family members gently bring up the topic among themselves and see what the reaction is. If one or two of the family members is not ready to move forward yet, they will make their voices heard.
Waiting Too Long
The opposite side of the coin is waiting too long to dispose of personal property. This can pose a number of potential problems, not the least of which is dragging out the estate process long enough to require more legal administration and paperwork. You certainly do not want to wait that long. You also don’t want to wait long enough for damage and decay to set in.
It is not uncommon for family members to be so grief stricken as to not realize they are waiting too long to deal with personal property. That is where the services of a good attorney or grief counselor come in. As third parties on the outside looking in, they are better able to make objective decisions on the behalf of family members.
Unfortunately, getting the timing right is very difficult. If you move too soon you could cause unwanted stress and resentment within your family. If you wait too long, you could make an uncomfortable situation nearly overwhelming. Nevertheless, avoiding such difficult circumstances is possible if you make arrangements for your own personal property well in advance of your passing.
One very good option is to hire a personal concierge service capable of handling the packing and disposal on your behalf. It is a service more concierge providers are offering these days. If you cannot work something out with a concierge in your local area, at least work with your attorney to make sure arrangements are settled in your will. Do your best to make the process as easy as possible for your loved ones.
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