June 15, 2020
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As an elder law attorney, I help clients manage their specific legal needs. But, we also discuss the “big picture,” to put in place a sensible plan that anticipates future events and helps ease the effects of the aging process on the older adult and their families. Naturally, much of this planning involves legal solutions, but there are practical elements to my advice, as well.  For instance, I work with a lot of clients who are “downsizing.” I also help families administer estates after a person has died.  In each situation, it can be a tremendous source of stress and disagreement to divide the tangible personal property, such as furniture, collectibles, jewelry, photos, tools and so forth. Sometimes, Items we love and treasure may not hold the same special place in the hearts—or homes—of our loved ones.

I encourage clients to live with loved and sentimental items as long as they wish and not be pressured to give away these items until they are ready to do so. However, if an individual is ready to give items to a loved one or donate items to charity, that may be a wise idea. Planning ahead can save older adults and their families the stress of a rapid, unexpected downsize (whether to a smaller home or to some sort of long term care facility) or minimize the task of distributing items from an estate once a loved one dies. And whereas our treasured belongings may mean a great deal to us, they be worth far less, financially, than we realize.  For an interesting story on this topic, I encourage you to read the following from the Public Broadcasting System’s NewsHour program.