Is it Stuff? Or Heirlooms? Not sure…

Posted On June 2, 2017

Gen-Xers and millennials have things easier than our Baby Boomer parents and grandparents in so many ways. We have grown up with technology and are comfortable with it. We’ve had advances in medicine that have made us healthier. We pay our bills online, buy our groceries with a piece of plastic and carry portable computers in our pockets, a world of information just a click away.

One thing that has become more difficult over the years, however, is deciding what to do with our parents’ possessions when they pass away. While treasured heirlooms such as china, silver and antiques have traditionally been passed down from one generation to the next, the grieving process when a parent dies these days has increasingly come to include a new phase – figuring out how to unload the estate.

In a piece for Forbes titled “Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff,” Richard Eisenberg notes that the era of family heirlooms may be over.

Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (yes, that’s a thing), says the tendencies of millennials and some Gen-Xers toward mobility and minimalism make them less likely to see any sentimental value in holding onto their parents’ belongings.

“This is an Ikea and Target generation,” she told Eisenberg. “They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did.”

Even antique stories and second-hand shops are increasingly less likely to be interested, particularly in furniture, because unless it’s a true find, the interest isn’t there from their customers. Genuine antiques still hold value, but many of our parents were just as drawn to the thrift of mass-produced furnishings and housewares as we are, and a second-hand table and chairs from Sears & Roebuck isn’t exactly going to be a high-demand item.

Eisenberg suggests you start assessing your future inheritance while your folks are still around, researching the market for anything of value and asking them about any stories behind the heirlooms (you might be surprised). Another suggestion: Hire a liquidator or a senior move manager like those Buysse represents.

And if all that fails? How to avoid just sending it all to the landfill? There’s always Craigslist. Or you can stow it in the attic or the garage and let your kids deal with it whenever the time comes.

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Categories: Baby Boomers, Generations, Matures, Wealth