It’s a common source of anxiety and concern in estate planning—your parents have spent a lifetime building an estate and often amassing a collection of “treasures” they plan to pass on to you. Unfortunately, your tastes and theirs may not be the same, you may not have need or room for many of the items they want to pass on to you, and you simply don’t have the personal interest or emotional attachment. Sociologists also say that there’s been a cultural shift over the last generation—today’s young adults are more likely to consider consumer goods that are disposable, with a short term life, so they’re not interested in inheriting the heirlooms and keepsakes their parents hung onto for decades.
The cultural change has seen the birth and burgeoning of a new industry—the senior move management business. These companies typically become involved when elder individuals either downsize or move into assisted or senior living. They customarily charge an hourly rate, spending time with clients going through all their possessions. They’ll sort through everything, help clients make decisions about what can go to the new residence, what can/should be donated, and what might best be disposed of through an estate sale. If the company holds an estate sale, their fee may be flat one, or it may be based on the proceeds of the sale.
Senior move managers customarily use a number of different approaches to liquidate any assets the client chooses not to keep (and that family members don’t want). Some companies have retail stores, and most will use online auction sites like eBay. Many will also work directly with charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to find homes for household goods that are still in good shape.
Some heirs, who prefer not to have the conversation with their parents, choose to put their parents’ heirlooms in self-storage—that industry is also booming. For most, it’s just putting off the inevitable, but many prefer to do that until mom and dad are gone.
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