Sifting Through The Memories

Claire-Anne AikmanThere have been so many natural tragedies in the news this past year, and we’ve all seen the news stories where a family loses everything.

If you are like me, and my friends and family, it makes you take stock of belongings and do a double check on home insurance policies.

As a realtor, I have been encountering more people in life transition, experiencing the passing of a spouse or parent. This leaves loved ones in the precarious position to become sifters of memories and along the way, determiners of value – all at a time when emotions are running high.

When my own father passed it was eye-opening in regards to what was not known: Where were insurance papers/policies? Were collectibles and other special items inventoried for insurance? Should they be? Just what in the world do we do? I found myself reflecting on the adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and more so, its reversal: One man’s treasure is another man’s junk.

The treasures of one, whether it’s baseball cards, fine china, silver service sets, even beanie babies, often do not carry over to being treasured by another. Oftentimes spouses, siblings, and friends do not see value in treasures left behind. I challenge them to see the sentimental value of it and not to take it all on but keep a piece or two that keeps their loved one’s memory alive. For me, it was my father’s business portfolios. I nervously asked my mother if I could have them because, for me, nothing spoke louder to me of my father than these zipped portfolios. He carried them with him every day to work and when I am at my office I see them and smile and feel he is with me.

What I’ve grown to love is when the task of accounting for ones life’s possessions is done before a tragedy. After helping so many people mentally prepare for the process of downsizing, and then helping them embrace a “less is more” philosophy, I am convinced that a personal home inventory is the best gift you can give your loved ones.

The first step is to embrace that this is a process. One has to come to terms with the fact that loved ones may not want your treasures. One must also come to terms with embracing one’s aging and accepting the reality of life in that none of us live forever. The three simple but emotion-filled phases are:

  • One: Focus on the items you have not touched for years. Forget how much you spent, why you purchased it, or where. Think about the feeling it brings you. If it does not bring a glimmer to your eyes or make your mouth turn upward a little, donate it ASAP.
  • Two: Focus on items you have loved but have no use for in your smaller home. Share the memory through stories of how it came into your home with your family and offer the item as a gift so they can feel the warmth in their home that it had in yours. Keep in mind if you LOVE your fine china, they may not want the whole set, but your grandkids might love the teacups and saucers for their tea sets. Think outside the box so you do not have to pack it in your moving box.
  • Three: You are left with your most cherished possessions. Now you need to take the time to inventory them. This helps with any insurance claim that might be needed but it also helps with estate planning and later, great assistance for your executor. To me, it is well worth the time and money invested to protect the most cherished items. Your loved ones will be so thankful you did this!

If the process is overwhelming or too challenging, contact your local certified home inventory professional to complete the inventory for you.

Claire-Anne Aikman, SRES, CRS is an award-winning top-producing Realtor in Indiana. She provides personal attention to each client, helping them through all aspects of the home buying and home selling processes. Call or text Claire-Anne at 317-345-6640 or email her.