What Should I Do with My Stuff?

As baby boomers age, many are planning to downsize into smaller homes.  However, preparing to live in a smaller space brings up a challenge: how do you get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated through the years.

Maybe you always thought one of your daughters would want the silverware that you were so proud to inherit from your own mother. However, today’s millennials are not very interested in their parent’s stuff, even when it has market value. According to The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Baby Boomers Are Downsizing and There’s A Problem: What To Do With All Their Stuff,” it may be time to call in the experts.

There are professionals who will visit your home and then photograph, catalog, sell and ship items that are sold through websites. Your realtor may have a special division that works with boomers, who are downsizing, as well as those who have the responsibility of cleaning out houses for deceased relatives.

Before you put it all on the auction block, let some time pass as you consider what you want to keep and what you want to sell or donate. This is a very emotional time. Decisions you make while grieving, may be different than you’d make when your life is calmer.

In many instances, the value of an item depends on where it’s located. An ornate art deco bedroom set with inlaid wood might have high value in the Southeast.  However, on the West Coast, it would be hauled off to the dump. A service that can put your goods online to be viewed by a national market, may bring a better price. 

Here are some things to consider when disposing of assets:

  • Conduct an inventory. If you’re inclined, create a spreadsheet and itemize everything. Share the spreadsheet with family members, so they can see what is being considered for sale. Dealers will also be more likely to work with you, if they are presented with organized information.
  • Consider selling the house furnished. If furnishings are new, that might make the property more attractive.
  • Find a reputable auction company. Ask your estate planning attorney for names. Whether it’s local or national, an auction house will walk through the home and provide advice on the assets.
  • There may be a charge for an appraisal. If you suspect there are valuable items, the appraisal may well be worth the investment.


Reference: The Wall Street Journal (June 20, 2018) “Baby Boomers Are Downsizing and There’s A Problem: What To Do With All Their Stuff”

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