A recent New York Times article addresses a distinct American phenomenon that has material implications for legions of estate planners in California and all across the country.
And that has to do with “stuff,” that is, the lifelong accretion of physical objects that many Americans accumulate with a vengeance. The Times piece denotes that seeming national obsession as “the competitive accumulation of material goods.”
The result is predictable and often problematic to a degree that turns out to be surprising and even hair-pulling, namely this: clutter in uppercase, resulting from the passing down over decades — sometime centuries — of family artifacts and heirlooms.
It’s just something that millions of American families do, that is, take pains to ensure that sons, daughters, grandchildren and other loved ones ultimately get that vase from Japan, that chest from Norway, the silver made in Boston 150 years ago and so forth.
Here’s a message from the Times: It’s likely — in fact, it’s a near certainty — that members of future family generations aren’t going to want all your stuff when you turn to the essentials of estate administration.
Reportedly, there is a transformation underway in American society, termed by one commentator in the Times piece who works with seniors trying to manage all their physical possessions as “a significant shift in material culture.”
Translated, that means this: There is far less chance that younger loved ones are going to want all your cherished things when you pass than would have been the case a generation or more ago.
Many individuals rightly think about important matters such as asset preservation and transfer, the avoidance of taxes and other financially related topics when they get around to meeting with a proven attorney to take steps in fashioning a sound and tailored estate plan for their and their family’s future.
As the Times stresses, that consideration often needs to include studied reflection on how to deal with a lifetime of accumulated possessions.