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bequeathing personal possessions

(77 Posts)
Fennel Sun 12-May-19 16:53:50

Now well into my 80s I'm beginning to think about the personal possessions I'll bequeath to my 3 children.
Financially there should be a small amount for each of them, but I'm quite attached to my few personal things and would like them to by shared fairly.
Some paintings, old photos and letters, newspaper cuttings, jewellery (not valuable) etc.
Have others faced these decisions - what did you do?

Itsnotme Thu 16-May-19 05:20:46

I’m going through a divorce and have walked away taking no furniture, and very little else. I have my mothers wedding and engagement rings but that’s all, and I like the idea of giving the engagement ring to a niece or Dil at some stage.

My MIL collected antique furniture, rings from relatives and all sorts of valuable pictures and ornaments. She gave away a lot of it slowly years before she died to her sons, giving them the choice of what they wanted. Us dils were given little things like perfume bottles. Mil had a harp, lots of proper big silver dishes from days when there were servants and butlers, beautiful China dinner and tea sets, but it’s finding a place to keep them. A lot was sold, but rings from deceased relatives were kept in a box and offered to us dils when we got married.

I intend to stay with barely nothing to keep things simple for my boys when I die.

Starlady Thu 16-May-19 03:49:29

It's beautiful that some of you have been able to just sit with your sister and divvy things up. Doesn't work that way for everyone.

When DM died, my DBs both lived at a distance. besides coming in for the funeral, they both managed to come and get certain things that they wanted. Their wishes were very different, so no problems there. The rest was left to me to sort as I chose. DD wanted some of it, I kept a few things, and the rest was sold, donated or tossed.

But so much to go through! Worse at my MIL's after she passed. So I'm another one who intends to downsize before I die. I will give some things to DD and my GC if they want them. but I know they might not. I just want to get rid of as much as possible before I go to make it easier for them. Some things will just have to be given to other family members (if they want), donated, or tossed. I'm not ready yet - still expect to be here a while, LOL! But when the time comes.... My plan is to do it little by little (not that I have that much), so I have time to think. But we'll see how it goes...

grannyticktock Tue 14-May-19 18:27:39

Yes, I have the Life Book which I have filled in on the computer (as a document, not online) and sent a copy to each of my two daughters. I will have to update it from time to time, but it is a start. If you start getting too specific about possessions in your will, it may cause confusion or arguments if all the items can't be found or identified when you die, or if someone says, "But I never liked that ring, I want the other one!" or even "She always promised me the other one!" and then it's very difficult for the executor(s) to carry out your wishes. Leaving a formal (but not binding) list or document with suggestions as to what might go where is more helpful. And as others have said, give away stuff in your lifetime once you have no further use for it.

Like several .others above, I have had to clear the house of a deceased relative who hoarded too much stuff and it was a nightmare to get rid of it all. She seemed to have kept every greetings card (except Xmas) she'd received for years and stored them in files. Shelves of paperbacks; shelves of video cassettes each containing one episode of "Morse"; piles of audio cassettes, a hoard of plastic bags, a garage full of rusting tools in woodwormed boxes... It is quite salutary to have to deal with all this, and has made me vow not to do the same.

GreenGran78 Tue 14-May-19 18:11:33

I have nothing of value, apart from my wedding and engagement rings, and my house. The house will be split evenly between my five ‘children’, but what to do about the rings? It would be a shame to sell them, and share the money, but with 2 daughters and 3 sons, plus 3 grandkids.......I’m at a loss.
One daughter did say that all she wanted was one of my lovely potted crimson acers, which I promptly gave her. She was delighted.

Grandmama Tue 14-May-19 18:07:43

I have an End of Life book (or similar name) from Age UK, probably I knew about it through Gransnet. It was free, very useful to anyone dealing with the death of someone - if they find it.

crazyH Tue 14-May-19 10:30:33

Got to get going about my jewellery. ....if I don't sort that out. my lovely daughter will not part with anything for her sisters-in- law. ?

fluttERBY123 Tue 14-May-19 10:18:03

gillybob I forgot to say do the post office will while you work out how to do a more detailed one.

Witzend Tue 14-May-19 10:11:40

Bluebell, re the photos, could you just make a small selection in one album? My father had a mass of old B&W photos, and a couple of years before he died he put a selection in just one album, with names and places - otherwise we often wouldn't have had a clue.
His captions were often amusing, e.g. 'Granny and Great Aunt Agnes, in the fashion of staid ladies of their day.'
We were so glad he had done it.

As for the family history, could you possibly get it transferred to digital, e.g. a memory stick? I think one problem is that people just don't have room for a lot of extra stuff now, and from experience, family may be glad of it later - IMO people get more interested in such things as they get older.

It was only by pure chance that dh - since he happened to visit that day - saved a mass of meticulous family history papers of MiL's from being chucked in the bin by FiL, who by then had dementia. It was some years before dh had the time, but he was very glad of it once he retired.

Witzend Tue 14-May-19 09:51:06

I'd ask them if there's anything they'd particularly like, so that you know. And either give in advance, or put it in your will.

My mother so often said, 'Put your names on things now - I don't want any squabbling after I'm gone.'

To which the answer was always, 'We won't be squabbling - we're not like your lot!' (She was one of 5 and so often there was friction/backbiting among them.)
Talk about the awful warning - we had vowed never to be the same!

One thing she'd have been very pleased about, was her lovely old gateleg table - she'd had it ever since we could remember. All of us in the U.K. already had tables we were happy with, so it went to a sister in the US, for a holiday home she mostly rented out.
Roll on several years, that house was sold, sister had no room in her own home, so it came back across the pond to a dd who'd just bought her first house - and prefers lovely mellow old things to shiny new/Ikea.

I felt very sorry for MiL (long gone now) whose father remarried not long after her mother died, and was whisked off to NZ by the new wife.
He lasted only a very few years, and after he died, new wife asked MiL whether she wanted anything. (He'd left everything to new wife,)
Yes, there was one not very big nice piece of furniture that had been her mother's, which she'd love to have.

Answer: 'It wouldn't travel.' A flat refusal. Mil got nothing.
MiL's father was the 3rd husband no. 2 had buried!!
It did rather make us wonder.....

MandyRaff Tue 14-May-19 09:43:51

My mum died of cancer in 2012 so she had time to plan what to do etc. She left myself, my four daughters and some close friends an envelope each with some jewelry and a letter. One of my daughters has never taken the ruby necklace off that she got off of her nana.

Legs55 Mon 13-May-19 21:26:21

I already have a large silver (sheffield plate) tray which I bought my parents for their Silver Wedding, my DF(Darling/Dear Father) died the following year, there are a few books & prints I will have (only of value to me) & a baby bowl. DM(Darling/Dear Mother) has already told my DD what she is to have & there are a few small items for a friend which I am aware of. Everything else of any value is to go to Auction, DD & myself have neither the room for/wish for most of DM's possessions.

My DD has already told me that she will sell my collection of cottages & books. My jewellery is unlikely to be of interest as it is not her style. There is virtually nothing my DD would wanthmm

When I downsized DD "inherited" a lot of very good kitchenware. At least I only have my DD so there is no-one to fight over my possessions.

OliverZach Mon 13-May-19 20:58:04

Hi BlueBell
Your family history documents may be of interest to the local family archives centre.

Fennel Mon 13-May-19 20:54:28

This has been so interesting to read. I've started discussing it with my 3, but they're all over the world.
My Dad was the historian in our family and gave all his documents etc to me. Eldest son has a bit of interest, but the other 2, plus step daughter, don't seem bothered.
The only things that are important to me are the two paintings of sailing ships in which my gggrandfather traded, as master, during the 19th century.

Grandmama Mon 13-May-19 20:18:11

Like NewNanny's sister I plan to photograph items and put some information by them. I'd like to think that my father's signet ring would be kept by the DDs. He died suddenly in my teens so the DDs never knew him. There are a few other bits and pieces that I would like the DDs to know why I've valued them and to hope they will too. When my father died my mother and I left our tied house and my mother disposed of many of my father's things without consulting me. I was very upset about some items that she gave away. My mother had an unusual gold ring she almost always wore, I still wonder what happened to it when she died.

Matthew1 Mon 13-May-19 19:39:35

My advice is not to use stickers. I used to visit a lady who had stickers on all her furniture, pictures Tec. As a district nurse we let ourselves in using the key safe when she could not get to the door and the stickers were forever dropping off the items. I am sure Mabel ended up with Irenes picture??? Take photographs and give a little potted history of the item so that people know what it meant to you

Matthew1 Mon 13-May-19 19:34:17

My advice is No

M0nica Mon 13-May-19 17:51:41

DH was executor for an aunt. It was a second marriage for both aunt and uncle and the aunt listed everything in her husband's house that belonged to her and were to go to her estranged son. Her husband died before her so we had to wind up the whole estate

Come the administration of the estate some of the items were not there, we looked everywhere and couldn't find them. They had, presumably been sold. The son accused DH of stealing them even though we had given him lots of extra things we found that were his mother's, some quite valuable, and were not listed.

It made for a very unpleasant atmosphere because he told other family members that DH was dishonest and had kept things that were not his. Thankfully no-one really believed him. His problems with his mother's second marriage were well known.

Sara65 Mon 13-May-19 16:20:26

Oh goodness grandtante, you’re worrying me now, do you really think there’s going to be a family row over my Christmas decorations?

fluttERBY123 Mon 13-May-19 16:14:02

Gillybob, you can go to the post office and they have simple will forms. If dh still there you make mirror wills leaving all to each other. You could add a bit about what if you both die together.Important thing is to get them witnessed and make sure people know where they are.

I am trying, unsuccessfully, to get my kids to make wills. If people die intestate estate automatically divided 50% to spouse and the rest shared between children. A friend had her dh die intestate and she had a dreadful time with selling house etc - kids were not yet in teens. That's why we did ours years ago.

chicken Mon 13-May-19 16:10:40

I have a clearly labelled "Death Box " which contains certificates, a copy of my will, bank and investment details, thoughts about my funeral and my hopes for the sharing out of my jewellery---each of my daughter , d-in-laws and grandchildren to choose what they would like ( with the stipulation that my eldest son is to have my engagement ring), then all the jewellery that is left is to go to a local charity that I support for them to sell ( with the request that they get it looked over by a jeweller as some of it is quite valuable.) I hope that they arrange it all amicably--but I shan't be around to see!

Greciangirl Mon 13-May-19 15:15:37

My late mother-in-law made a will, bequeathing items of jewellery to her daughter and granddaughters.

When she died, we cleared out her house, but no sign of any jewellery.

She had sold the lot and we had no idea.

grandtanteJE65 Mon 13-May-19 15:08:47

My grandmother made a list which was included in her will of who was to have what of her personal possessions.

As she had two sons, a daughter and five grandchildren it was a great relief to my parents, who felt they got the things they wanted and there were no distressing discussions about it.

I think you should do the same, but do discuss with your children what they would like.

Alarm bells sound in my head at the thought of one daughter getting all the Christmas decorations. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me, unless her siblings don't care.

gillybob Mon 13-May-19 14:41:59

I have no jewellery anyone would want and certainly none of any value . I am custodian of my late mums engagement ring ( I have never had one of my own) which will go to my DD after my death.

My DH and I really need to make a will but haven’t got a clue where to even start .

Nograndsyet Mon 13-May-19 14:37:18

I’m only daughter but I have 3 lovely SIL. They let me choose pieces that were family heirlooms and they the hit to choose from the rest. They also chose fir my nieces. My only nephew got his papas watch. I’m be if my nieces didn’t want any jewellery but she did want grandmas handwritten recipe book which was about 60 years old and dappled with flour and cinnamon etc. It was the old fashioned type recipe nook with the cut out edges. We all found something to treasure

EllanVannin Mon 13-May-19 14:05:05

It's always best to tell family/relatives etc while you're still alive. Money too is best given when the family need it and not the fact that you may live to be a hundred " while they're waiting for help " I don't see the sense.

I have more than enough jewellery and antiques to go around everyone so it'll be a matter of taking their pick if they so wish-----or the bin ! Unfortunately it's the males of the family who'll dip out except that they've been indirectly helped financially in the past.
Special items have been listed and to whom.