The death of a Maine home owner with lots of personal property and a place loaded with furnishings. Where the owner has called the sticks and bricks home for a half century or longer. They collected a lot of cargo. Especially those brought up during the depression and taught to never part with anything.
The settling estate process in Maine, what happens to the collection of valuables in the find a new home for everything? The personal property in a home or apartment has to be divided up or sold off and the money received used to pay any creditors. Or the treasure to get packed up and shipped off to a favorite charity for the good feeling and the tax deduction slip from the donation. Maybe the split up of the personal belongings between the heirs of the estate happens to provide each get an item or two momento as a reminder of the lost loved one. So the memory of them comes alive when using it or just spying it in your home.
Buyers of homes loaded to the gills with wall to wall furnishings don’t fetch more and are a burden to the new house owner who needs room for their own belongings.
It is interesting to see how individual family members approach the what do we do with all the stuff left behind when the dearly departed ceases breathing.
Stops paying taxes and leaves the gravity of Earth. I had one house sale in Blaine Maine where the brother had three sisters. He was a state trooper and set up the rules of the procedure rules for the method to be used in the household belongings reduction. So the home could be listed for sale, sold with just the major appliances staying in the real estate transfer. He wanted to protect against sharp edge rapids, to avoid class five twists and turns in the navigation of suddenly choppy relationship waters.
The brother listed the items in each room in this Aroostook County home overlooking the Prestile Stream. Everything inventoried to fill up many sheets of lines on a yellow legal pad. Down through the list in round robin fashion, the tedious process of a loved one’s personal items was started after everyone met at Mom’s home for the roll up your sleeves, the who wants what determination when coffee and donut sampling was done.
The heave ho, where does it go started on Saturday morning.
Everyone got a list copy to follow along with just like a college course syllabus outline. Starting at the top of page one, the kitchen, then moving on to the dining room, the living room and so on. Down through the list the family members went. Together discussing line by line all the items, everything of their mother’s personal belongings needing disposal.
For example, if the dining room hutch was the item under the white hot spotlight, each sister was asked if they wanted to bid on it. If one wanted it, after bidding a hundred dollars, the next could up the ante bidding to a higher level. The item ended up going to the highest bidder and at the end of the auction among just immediate family members, all the money was split between them as part of the estate. I asked how did this approach came about and the brother smiled, saying you don’t know my sisters. He was doing everything possible to assure family peace and good relations continuing between all the remaining siblings for years to come. He knew hard feelings held inside can fester and mess up the family member peace and harmony if not done with extra sensitivity.
The things of value for those left behind when you lose a loved one.
It is not what would fetch the most money on the open market or craigs list, a facebook marketplace at a sale to the public. The more intimate items with a personal connection. I wanted the kool aid glass picture with orange and blue sail boats seashore motif on the sides that reminded me of a Maine summer as a kid on school vacation. The plastic Santa with a crack on the arm from heavy use. That held the colored Christmas light bulb that twist into the hand that sat on the kitchen window sill every time the month of December showed up on the calendar.
Another item cherished and not sold off at a garage sale or thrown away. The 1957 Pepsi bottle holding the green sprayer with cork plug to hold it in place after water refilling from the kitchen tap. Clothe irons did not have the sprayer attachment button to press and squirt back in the early 1960’s and earlier. Sprinkling clothing by shaking out some water and then ironing with the hot iron to smooth out to remove the wrinkles was the method of the day. I remember how hard my Mom worked in her cheerful way to make sure the four boys, my Dad were provided for every day whatever was needed on the Maine farm lifestyle.
Maybe death affects people in strange ways and can help explain the behaviors like two sisters muckling onto a lamp and pulling for all they are worth to pry it away from the other.
A friend of mine laughed when that memory was recalled when his mom and aunt squared up to fight tooth and nail over items. You learn that the sister felt their mom favored one over the other.
Or the big pot used to make potato soup or some other delicacy the way only your Mom could and did when it was a snow day. And school was canceled and how your spent the day inside or making snow tunnels and rolled men to watch over the yard like soldiers outside was a special time.
As snow came down and piled up but no one was worried or scared. It was a celebration of a day off from school and rituals that happened only when it was canceled or released early. Cookies prepared with all hands on deck are strong memories. The tools create and decorate them hold strong personal value.
Conversations from the grave in the “she said he said” about who gets what that the person who died reportedly promising the momento to one particular family member. The small mink stole to be wrapped around the neck or left sitting on the shoulders just so. Back when it was fashionable to wear animal fur out in public without a public protest that the grandmother said would look best on and fit the tinier daughter like a glass slipper.
But watch out. When the larger sibling got wind of the gift news pitched a fit. Saying the fur, along with a number of other items were all promised to her by the same grandmother on her death bed final confession. Even thought the junior fur wrap would never fit on the broad shoulders of the larger built granddaughter, the claws extended as the grip on the delicate silk lined mink tightened.
You hear stories about families at a funeral while the unattended house of whoever died is paid a visit and items removed.
A death is a hard enough life event to adjust to when there is a loss of a loved one. But when a family member needs health care, what to do about greedy siblings who don’t work together to make that happen seamlessly.
Funeral arrangements, I see one or two siblings left holding the cost of the ceremony while listing estate property for sale. Whoever is the personal representative of the estate has a very tough and not always popular job. To take care of bills, hold back on the spending of money the estate does not have.
The cost of the funeral can be out of hand when grief stricken family members don’t want to appear cheap and tend to over spend. In cases when whoever is picking up the cost of the final arrangements is left to settle up personally. Liens on property titles from funeral directors expenses happen in any state and I see evidence of them in registry of deeds searches for legal descriptions to property needing to be sold.
The best way to avoid a fight in an inheritance is to expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.
It is the person who worked hard to earn the money to get the enjoyment from it right? Anything you do get is a bonus. The best way to assure when you are dead and gone that those left behind will fight is to not do a will. To die without spelling out your wishes in the last will and testament. Those thinking that there was inequality in how the spoils are split up can always contest the mental capacity of whoever died. Or was involved in the witnessing of the will that will testify on the day of the will signing the answers to standard questions to test the soundness of mind left no question if they knew what they were doing. That it was their free act and deed and they agreed with the directions outlined in the will.
Billable hours and court house steps to wrangle with relatives is one way to spend the inheritance.
They say listing more than one sibling as co-executors of an estate can help avoid resentment. Making the division of what is carved up and given away to family members is better received when it is done in equal shares. Avoiding confusion of any kind helps in times of greiving a loss and you don’t die any quicker having an updated will to make known your final wishes.
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