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Posts tagged ‘inheritance’

The Difficult Job of Inheriting the House

Delegating what to do with what the dead leave behind is a common ritual for the living. And when it’s your own loved one? In each slip of a paper and garment is a memory. Or a smell. A joy followed by a grief.

For some, the task is too painful. They assign the job to a friend, or even hire out the work. Others madly toss stuff in boxes that get put into storage. They put their grief behind lock and key.

And then there’s me. I worked on the process off and on for eight years. I loved my parents’ belongings jogging my memory and filling in the parts that time blurred. But it was also a very difficult job. I bawled my head off. There are things I just could not throw away. That suited me. Their things made the house feel lived in. Like they were there.20180428_200413

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Inheritance: How to Stem Conflicts

No two people could be as different as my brother and me, but even if siblings share a lot of similarities, the death of their parents and dividing of an estate can be a wedge between them.

I’ve heard numerous stories about money and possessions segregating families into warring factions. Accusations fly like nuclear missiles, and the devastation lasts a lifetime.ToniProfilePic

At the end of this post, I’ll provide tips to help others grease the task of dispersing an inheritance, but first allow me to share my story. I learned a little from being the executrix of my parents’ estate, but the two primary reasons it was mostly hassle-free weren’t things I put in place. You could say my brother made it easy for me.

He lacked an attachment to the family and to the household property. And he was a resident in a Florida prison.

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Cleaning Out Parents’ Home Painful, Valuable Process

I should have known better. I’ve been grieving long enough to know. But because I didn’t think ahead, I planned the last grand sale of my parents’ belongings right before Father’s Day.

And right before “death month” – July. Both my parents died in the month of July, three years apart. Every year I march toward the month and replay their lives and my loss. I go over to their home on the anniversaries, go through their things and decide what to keep and what not to keep.

It’s a common ritual for the living, that of deciding to do with what the dead left behind. For some, the task is too painful. They assign the job to a friend, or even hire out the work. Others madly toss stuff in boxes that get put into storage. They put their grief behind lock and key.

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A previous yard sale at our home. Several of my parents’ things sold.

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Daddy’s Filing Cabinet: When Parents’ Possessions Walk Us Thru Grief

Where do daddies keep their daughter’s handmade birthday cards? Or brochures of sports games they attended together at her college? May I suggest they keep them in their filing cabinets.toni2017-2

That’s where I found the ones my father kept. He stashed old utility receipts there, too, and appliance manuals and sermon notes and photo copies of funny cartoons.

I found my dad in the filing cabinet after he died. That’s the way I put it. I discovered and rediscovered small details of his life. Of him. Of us.

One thing I found in the filing cabinet after both my parents were gone was a draft of the note Dad wrote on my college scrapbook. With him dead, it took on new meaning.

“I love you so much – You may be out of my sight, but never out of my heart.”

You better believe I cried.

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Photography: When It’s Too Hard to Let Go

I’m blessed with a lot of space, but many others struggle with finding a space for the things they inherit. Useful things aren’t the challenge. Grandmother’s casserole dish? To the kitchen it goes.

But what about the things you aren’t going to use? Things that perhaps aren’t at the top of the sentimental list, but still is wrapped in a memory? Something too big to put into a box?PhotoLawn

I’m not going to be exhaustive right now, but I do want to suggest one solution. Photography.

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Inherited Stuff: Three Questions To Help With the Clean Out

I’ve got a special relationship with stuff, but a professional organizer who visited our church this week challenged my attachment, not only to my belongings but to things I inherited from my parents. Kathy Armstrong lets go of things. I latch onto them with unmatched ferocity.

I didn’t recognize the extent of my attachment until after my parents died. I discarded a lot of their things, things that didn’t trigger much of an emotional tug. Everything else, which was a lot of stuff, lived in limbo. I could because the house, 10 minutes away, was paid for.clutterexample-2

Over the years it became apparent to me that I wasn’t that different from my parents. My mother, a child of the Depression Era, kept things because they might be useful someday. Ends of 2 x 4s come to mind. I recently cleaned out the oldest shed on the property. I threw away the wood.

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