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It Isn’t the End of the World If Your Surviving Family Members Have to Declutter Your House


Decluttering is a lot of work, even if you are in the mood for it and are keen to receive the reward for doing it, such as a house that looks tidy or having less stuff to pack when you move.  It is very hard to motivate yourself to declutter simply because you have clutter. The task gets even harder when you are retired.  When you are working, it is easier to say, “I will declutter the first desk drawer this weekend, so I will have one more decluttered drawer when I go back to work on Monday.”  Retired people do not have this motivation, though.  Despite what partisans of the Swedish Death Cleaning movement may say, decluttering your way to the grave is not for everyone.  Some people might even try to guilt trip you by saying that every item of clutter that your family will eventually remove from your house prolongs the grief and creates opportunities for family discord.  In fact, when people have a falling out with their siblings over a recently deceased parent’s clutter, it is never really about the clutter.  It is possible, however, to make an estate plan that is conducive to family harmony.  A Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer will help you set up your estate plan to remove the biggest possible sources of stress for your family, so that clearing out what remains of your clutter is not an overwhelming task.

Writing a Will Is More Important Than Decluttering

When family members end up in bitter disputes over a deceased family member’s estate, it is not usually about who gets to keep the coffee table or about whether to trash Dad’s comic book collection or donate it to a museum.  The most bitter disputes are about the inheritance of the big stuff, like real estate properties and business interests.  There is a reason that most people do not address personal property in their will, but everyone addresses their most valuable assets.  If you write a will that makes plans for your most valuable assets and acts as though your personal property is just details, then your heirs will act accordingly.  Deciding whether to keep the Tupperware or toss it is a lot easier than deciding who has the right to sell your house and at what price.

For that matter, material things are not the biggest source of resentment that your estate plan can avoid.  Emotions run much higher about an elderly family member’s final illness than they do about a deceased family member’s property.  Therefore, as soon as you write a will, or even sooner, you should write down your wishes about nursing home care and other healthcare-related matters.  You should sign a medical power of attorney that expresses your wishes about giving the authority to make decisions about your healthcare in the event of your serious illness.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About Seeing Past the Estate Planning Hype and Focusing on the Basics

A Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney can help you start with the most important aspects of your estate plan and avoid getting stuck on minor details.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.



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