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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Enjoy your stuff, but are you prepared to let it go?

Feb 23, 2024 02:21PM ● By Dr. Glenn Mollette

One of life’s perils is putting too much value on “stuff.” 

“Stuff” encompasses a wide range of items, comprising both what we possess and what we lack. Our lives often revolve around our stuff: our homes, cars and belongings within them. Our stuff that’s stored away in garages, storage units or barns. 

It’s not difficult to accumulate lots of stuff. And often, it’s way more than what we need. 

We paint, stain, groom and polish our stuff. We put some of it in cases, drawers, cabinets and safes. We know how difficult it is to buy and accumulate. Stuff is expensive.

We take pride in our stuff. We admire, adore and feel good about what we have. We remember days when we didn’t have much—how it felt good to get a check and even better to put a few dollars in the bank.  

Me, myself and I often became our most significant heroes. We applaud ourselves because we did it—whatever it is. We acknowledge the paths we’ve walked and the potential outcomes— where we could be, what could have been or what even might be—if luck, circumstances and health had been different.

The problem with stuff is that it changes. It fades, erodes, rots, burns, is stolen or loses its value. What was once considered valuable may become worthless.

If you have a lot of stuff, then you have a lot to worry about.

Eventually, all of your stuff will belong to someone else. Your land. Your prized possessions. All that you have worked to collect and preserve will be passed on or gained by someone else. 

You can meticulously plan to pass your stuff on to someone who may not truly value it, only to have it handed over to a complete stranger. Once it’s out of your hands, who knows what will happen to it?

When we die, we’ll take nothing with us. All of our stuff will be left behind, destined to eventually end up in a junkyard or trash heap. Fifty years from now, strangers might be sleeping in your house, provided your house still stands.

There was once a man who amassed so much wealth that he had to build multiple barns to store it all. One day, he was heard speaking to himself, “I have accumulated enough to last for many years. I will take it easy, eat, drink and be merry.” 

However, that same day, he passed away. Jesus shared this parable in the Bible, Luke chapter 12, highlighting how easy it is to become consumed by our possessions, just like the man in the story.

Enjoy your stuff but be prepared to let it all go. 

Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 13 books including “Uncommon Sense,” “The Spiritual Chocolate” series, “Grandpa’s Store” and “Minister’s Guidebook.” His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.

How to ensure your possessions go where you’d like them to after you pass:

  • Honest conversations. This might seem like a no-brainer, but just because a possession means a lot to you, that doesn’t mean it will to other family members. See what items hold sentimental value or pique their interests.
  • Start a document. Along with the recipient of the item, include any family stories that enhance the meaning of the item. Alternatively, you can affix a label with the recipient’s name on the bottom. Or both! 
  • Will. The surest way to have a say in where your things—and your money—goes is to draft a will with an attorney. A whopping 68% of Americans do not have a will. In that case, the state decides who gets your prized possessions, which may not be in line with your wishes.

    In Colorado, you can settle an estate without a lawyer, but hiring one may be beneficial for complex estates, high-value assets or if the estate has more debts than assets. An estate planning attorney can help you create and amend your will, powers of attorney and many categories of trusts. They can also help resolve disputes among beneficiaries and provide peace of mind that the estate has been properly settled. Want to consult with an estate-planning attorney? Contact Burke, Holguin & Smith at 970-241-2969.
  • Know your items’ worth. You can gauge a lot by going on eBay and finding similar items. If nobody wants your antique but it’s valuable, you don’t want it going to Goodwill. 
  • Recycle. The goal isn’t to make more landfill waste, but to give anything that isn’t broken and still has life a new home. Clothing, kitchen items and furniture can go to thrift stores, books to used bookstores, unexpired food to food banks and so forth.
  • Pets. Leave your furry friend (with some money for food and care) to someone responsible. You can work with your estate attorney to create a pet trust for the care of your animal.
  • Car. Consider donating your vehicle to an area nonprofit, gifting it or leaving instructions on how it should be sold.

What are your plans for your stuff after you’re gone? 

 Heidi Comstock

“I plan to set aside a day where I dress up for the occasion, pour a glass of wine, position a comfy chair next to a huge pile of stuff, and set a rather large bonfire. I’ll carefully examine each item, photographing ones I want to remember. After blessing each item and all related to it and, with love, I’ll toss it on the fire. I’ll keep a small box nearby for the few things I can’t part with. If something doesn’t fit in the box, on the fire it goes!”

Thomas Deike

“But I love my stuff! I have no kids, so I’d probably donate it to the Salvation Army or Catholic Outreach because I think they’re very helpful for a lot of people.”

John Ragar

“After losing everything in my divorce, I try to avoid accumulating stuff. I still have a lot of tools, but the chances of my kids using them are slim to none. I expect that if I get too old to take care of the house, I’ll have a yard sale and get rid of it all. But with any luck, I’ll be around for another 20 years.”

 Shelley Friesen

“I love wearing heels and dresses to work, so I have a closet full of shoes! When I retire in two years, I’ll sell some and donate the rest to Heirlooms for Hospice. As for the rest of my stuff, I intend to donate everything except for what I leave to my husband for him to decide what to do with it.”

Kevin Keppel

“I guess most people would pass their stuff along to their kids, but at my age, they don’t need anything either! There are certain collections that I’d definitely pass on to them, but my hope is to downsize enough so they don’t have a lot to deal with after I’m gone. Sell what you can and donate the rest. Your kids would just as soon have the money anyway.”