March 20 marks the first day of spring.
You would not know it's spring from the snowstorm which just dumped a ton of heavy snow in southern New Hampshire, but it's true. Spring is officially here!
Besides enjoying longer days, budding flowers and trees, and shedding winter coats and boots for lighter attire, spring means cleaning.
Yes, it's that wonderful time of year when you have the opportunity (and maybe the urge) to purge your stuff, donate those clothes you don't wear anymore, throw out tons of receipts, bills and papers collected from the year, unsorted photos, old bank statements, assorted pieces of kitchenware and get your stuff organized.
So what does this have to do with planning for the inevitable?
I hear a lot of people say, "when I retire I will..." or "before I die I will..."
- write a book
- hang out more with friends
- exercise more
- find inner peace
- read more books
- be happy
- complete my bucket list
No one has ever said to me that they will clean out all of their stuff to save someone else from having to do so.
Generally, that means that when they die (everyone will die at some point) someone else has the burden of cleaning out your stuff-and most of the time this is an enormous task.
I had a friend whose father had died and she was burdened with the task of cleaning out his house; a house that had not had any "spring cleaning" in over sixty years. A large dumpster was parked in the driveway as she and others hauled everything out, tossing it into the trash. I could not help but reflect that those items could have been used by someone else...but the task was too daunting to deal with it in a methodical and thoughtful way. So out it all went.
Cleaning takes time. The job can be an exhausting ordeal, but you can get through it.
So here's the challenge-do it right now-trust me it will feel good-and your family will thank you!
- make a list of all the things you want someone to have after you die
- start cleaning out now; spring cleaning daily or weekly, or once a month
- organize your important financial documents
- be thorough and meticulous
- give away things now... toys, books you've read, momentos, even jewelry
- remember the motto "less is more"
- remember family comes first
- have each family member create a wish list
Here's an article about someone who found a lost stock certificate while plowing through his deceased father's files. Finding assets and cashing them in after an estate is closed creates more problems than if all items had been accounted for. People keep treasures in strange places, so don't just toss things in the dumpster until you check the insides of old sox, boxes and junk drawers. Look for cash too.
If you want or need help , this company assists in many ways- moving or downsizing or cleaning out a house. There are probably other organizatons like it around the country. It's nice to know that help is there when you need it.
In the end, consider the cleaning out job a labor of love.