A friend of mine told me he asked his brother if he had prepared a will and his brother replied, "What do I need that for? I'm not dead yet!"
Kenny Rogers, when he sang "The Gambler" sang "You've got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold ''em and know when to walk away and know when to run," and this rings true not only for holding cards but also for furniture, clothing, old sports equipment and dishes, pots and pans and magazines.
A recent article by Elizabeth O'Brian called The Power of Positive Purging Your Stuff says that "while a monetary gift is sure to please heirs, an overstuffed house presents a more complicated inheritance".
Imagine inheriting a house with a sign placed over the door saying it is The Museum of Things We Forgot to Throw Away Just In Case We Might Need Them In The Future.
We spend so much time and money on expensive gift wrapping and bright ribbons to wrap gift items, but don't necessarily view our plans for inheritance in the same way and often leave it to be presented to the receiver unwrapped, or at least poorly wrapped in newspaper or heaped up in cardboard boxes and the like, complicated by weak instructions as to where all this stuff is supposed to go.
Giving someone a streamlined, well-prepared transfer of funds, furniture and funk, is not so hard. It just takes a bit of energy and a slight change in perspective.
Not too long ago, I blogged an article on my own personal experience on becoming a minimalist and another on a strategy for getting rid of old things and another on simple steps toward estate planning.
Yes, this did mean looking at the future and realizing I won't always be in it. That is not the happiest thought, perhaps.
But it is also not very pleasant to look ahead and see piles and piles of items left in heaps for others to sort through, and to imagine already exhausted adult children, holding down jobs and taking care of their own children, trying to straighten out the mess of unexplained transfers, while in bereavement.
Setting up a gift package is turning out to be a happy, enjoyable activity, freeing me up in the process to do some of the things I always wanted to do, since I am no longer holding down the fort on so many "no longer necessary" things.