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Postby 4ever2 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:12 pm

Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff
Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms

February 9, 2017
After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids. Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I’ll explain why, and what you can do as a result, shortly.

The Stuff of Nightmares
So please forgive the morbidity, but if you’re lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you’ll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes. (I wish I had. My sister and I, forced to act quickly to avoid owing an extra months’ rent on dad’s apartment, hired a hauler to cart away nearly everything we didn’t want or wouldn’t be donating, some of which he said he’d give to charity.)

Many boomers and Gen X’ers charged with disposing the family heirlooms, it seems, are unprepared for the reality and unwilling to face it. They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.
— Susan Devaney, The Mavins Group
“It’s the biggest challenge our members have and it’s getting worse,” says Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM).
“At least a half dozen times a year, families come to me and say: ‘What do we do with all this stuff?’” says financial adviser Holly Kylen of Kylen Financials in Lititz, Pa. The answer: lots of luck.

Heirloom Today, Foregone Tomorrow
Dining room tables and chairs, end tables and armoires (“brown” pieces) have become furniture non grata. Antiques are antiquated. “Old mahogany stuff from my great aunt’s house is basically worthless,” says Chris Fultz, co-owner of Nova Liquidation, in Luray, Va.

And if you’re thinking your grown children will gladly accept your parents’ items, if only for sentimental reasons, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise.

“Young couples starting out don’t want the same things people used to have,” says Susan Devaney, president of NASMM and owner of The Mavins Group, a senior move manager in Westfield, N.J. “They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.”

The Ikea Generation
Buysse agrees. “This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did,” she notes. “And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff dragging down a move across country for a new opportunity.”

Most antiques dealers (if you can even find one!) and auction houses have little appetite for your parents’ stuff, either. That’s because their customers generally aren’t interested. Carol Eppel, an antique dealer and director of the Minnesota Antiques Dealers Association in Stillwater, Minn., says her customers are far more intrigued by Fisher Price toy people and Arby’s glasses with cartoon figures than sideboards and credenzas. Even charities like Salvation Army and Goodwill frequently reject donations of home furnishings, I can sadly say from personal experience.

Midcentury, Yes; Depression-Era, No
A few kinds of home furnishings and possessions can still attract interest from buyers and collectors, though. For instance, Midcentury Modern furniture — think Eames chairs and Knoll tables — is pretty trendy. And “very high-end pieces of furniture, good jewelry, good artwork and good Oriental rugs — I can generally help find a buyer for those,” says Eppel.

“The problem most of us have,” Eppel adds, “is our parents bought things that were mass-produced. They don’t hold value and are so out of style. I don’t think you’ll ever find a good place to liquidate them.”

Getting Liquid With a Liquidator
Unless, that is, you find a business like Nova Liquidation, which calls itself “the fastest way to cash in and clean out your estate” in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville and Richmond, Va. Rather than holding an estate sale, Nova performs a “buyout” — someone from the firm shows up, makes an assessment, writes a check and takes everything away (including the trash), generally within two days.

If a client has a spectacular piece of art, Fultz says, his company brokers it through an auction house. Otherwise, Nova takes to its retail shop anything the company thinks it can sell and discounts the price continuously (perhaps down to 75 percent off), as needed. Nova also donates some items.
Another possibility: Hiring a senior move manager (even if the job isn’t exactly a “move”). In a Next Avenue article about these pros, Leah Ingram said most NASMM members charge an hourly rate ($40 to $100 an hour isn’t unusual) and a typical move costs between $2,500 and $3,000. Other senior move managers specializing in selling items at estate sales get paid through sales commissions of 35 percent or so.

“Most of the people in our business do a free consultation so we can see what services are needed,” says Devaney.

8 Tips for Home Unfurnishing
What else can you do to avoid finding yourself forlorn in your late parents’ home, broken up about the breakfront that’s going begging? Some suggestions:

1. Start mobilizing while your parents are around. “Every single person, if their parents are still alive, needs to go back and collect the stories of their stuff,” says Kylen. “That will help sell the stuff.” Or it might help you decide to hold onto it. One of Kylen’s clients inherited a set of beautiful gold-trimmed teacups, saucers and plates. Her mother had told her she’d received them as a gift from the DuPonts because she had nursed for the legendary wealthy family. Turns out, the plates were made for the DuPonts. The client decided to keep them due to the fantastic story.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to find takers, if you can. “We tell people: The longer you have to sell something, the more money you’re going to make,” says Fultz. Of course, this could mean cluttering up your basement, attic or living room with tables, lamps and the like until you finally locate interested parties.

3. Do an online search to see whether there’s a market for your parents’ art, furniture, china or crystal. If there is, see if an auction house might be interested in trying to sell things for you on consignment. “It’s a little bit of a wing and a prayer,” says Buysse.

That’s true. But you might get lucky. I did. My sister and I were pleasantly surprised — no, flabbergasted — when the auctioneer we hired sold our parents’ enormous, turn-of-the-20th-century portrait of an unknown woman by an obscure painter to a Florida art dealer for a tidy sum. (We expected to get a dim sum, if anything.) Apparently, the Newcomb-Macklin frame was part of the attraction. Go figure. Our parents’ tabletop marble bust went bust at the auction, however, and now sits in my den, owing to the kindness of my wife.

4. Get the jewelry appraised. It’s possible that a necklace, ring or brooch has value and could be sold.

5. Look for a nearby consignment shop that might take some items. Or, perhaps, a liquidation firm.

6. See if someone locally could use what you inherited. “My dad had some tools that looked interesting. I live in Amish country and a farmer gave me $25 for them,” says Kylen. She also picked out five shelters and gave them a list of all the kitchen items she wound up with. “By the fifth one, everything was gone. That kind of thing makes your heart feel good,” Kylen says.

7. Download the free Rightsizing and Relocation Guide from the National Association of Senior Move Managers. This helpful booklet is on the group’s site.

8. But perhaps the best advice is: Prepare for disappointment. “For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” says Buysse, talking about the boomers’ parents (sometimes, the final downsizing) and the boomers themselves. “I have a 90-year-old parent who wants to give me stuff or, if she passes away, my siblings and I will have to clean up the house. And my siblings and I are 60 to 70 and we’re downsizing.”

This, it seems, is 21st-century life — and death. “I don’t think there is a future” for the possessions of our parents’ generation, says Eppel. “It’s a different world.”

As an avid Auction Hound, I've gone to many a 'estate sale' and 'family auction' where to my dismay I've seen such lovely hand made things like: quilts/quilt tops/quilt pieces stuffed into boxes of just junk - or left out in the rain and not given the proper treatment that they deserved. And sadly found out later that some items were just thrown away because no one bid on them and they were just tossed by the auctioneer due to their ignorance and give-a-shit attitude.
Old family bibles with the entire family history written out in cursive on the ancestral pages - old photo tin types - old cherished family photos' mixed in with dirty laundry waiting for trash day - baby cradles that were hand made by someone's relative for a newborn but not worth anything in today's 'must have brand new furniture' thinking young people opinions!

It's appalling to me that so many solid wood furniture pieces sit at auctions & estate sales untouched & unwanted by this younger generation when they can purchase furniture that has zero solid woods and fake compacted wood fiber construction to make them appear pretty.
But my parents did place a lot of value on a 12 place setting of bone china ...something that filled the china cabinet and was only used for grandparent visits and hand washed lovingly and put away carefully and packed up as the most fragile glass could be during each and every move! All of those luncheon sets: little glass snack plates with the dainty cup for tea/coffee ...only used for mothers bible study group or club days!
Nope, nothing MY GENERATION got involved in - I don't even own any china and my day dishes are splatter painted enamel ware {with some chips} ...but even this - not sure if my son would want my junk - what might matter to him? Most of my 'STUFF' is recycled out of other solid wood items and rebuilt/reused/repurposed into other items.
England{ish}, would seem the place that you'd have loads more history pieces and old family articles to make decisions about; have you had to down size and get rid of some 'Family Heirlooms' because you just didn't have the room and no one wanted them?
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Postby Stooo » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:20 pm

I've kept a few things to remind me of my parents and have a few from my grandparents and aunt but I feel the memory of them is the best thing to pass on to future generations. I feel that my children are my legacy to the future rather than some old tat.
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Postby Nucks » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:41 pm

My brother and I have been trying to convince my mum and her husband to start downsizing a bit. They'll be 66 and 76 this year, respectively and he's starting to realise he can't do as much as he used to. Their house is pretty big and filled with "stuff". I sure don't want it all when she passes and I highly doubt my brothers are interested in her teapot collection or 38 totes full of xmas decorations. :ooer:

I think they like the idea of having a big house for the status symbol, but are liking the upkeep that goes with it less and less as the years go by.
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Postby 4ever2 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:59 pm

Stooo wrote:I've kept a few things to remind me of my parents and have a few from my grandparents and aunt but I feel the memory of them is the best thing to pass on to future generations. I feel that my children are my legacy to the future rather than some old tat.

I've become the photo hoarder of our family of 6 siblings; all those black & white negatives - the time spent saving them to a 5¼ floppy then to a 3.5 disk and now to a safer CD is time consuming thing but I felt it was important when the number of photo albums became a 'storage/protection' issue! I am hanging onto the oldest tin types and original sepia photo's that I have {fire proof lock box} ...I've tried to identify with labels all that I know for sure; some are just conjecture as my native American grand father's past was very allusive and more word of mouth then documented history.
But events like: my mother's ability to set our farm home on fire a couple of times, meant that her 'Hope Chest' of heirloom hand sewn linens were destroyed - some family furniture items destroyed and with 9 living siblings there just wasn't enough place setting of china to go around so everyone got a setting ...and that was just for display - never to be used. I did have several little figurines that one of her older brothers sent my mom from Germany {WWII} but those were broken when the cabinet came off the wall and fell.
But my tender/loving care of those photo's might not be something that is cherished and carried forward to the next several generations; not everyone has a fondness for old photo's and 'who those unhappy looking people are', like I do.
I've known a few friends that seemed very possessive about their old family STUFF and the reason they were going to hang onto it was more monetary driven then memory/sentimental reasoning! Each to their own I suppose. :whistle:

But finding you have the burden dropped upon you when you weren't expecting it ...WOW, lots of people hoard crap that just seems silly and irrational but there wasn't anyone around to question WTH are you hanging onto all of those hotel room keys for??? And the daughter found stack & stacks of cigar boxes filled with hotel room keys ...from her fathers days as a traveling salesman and all of her parents trips while they were married for 65 years! Image
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