Covid and Stuff and More Stuff

by Hank Donat on 09/19/2022

A Gay Housewife® likes to cut through the confusion. Covid is “over” but also “not going anywhere” according to the same people. For some that means heading to the theatre or unmasked business conference. For others it means being prepared to die or become permanently disabled as mitigations disappear.

A recurring theme among so much loss in the current era is the burden of someone else’s stuff. We’ve seen family members and friends spend months, even years, sorting through clothes, books, scrapbooks, media, and other things and collections.

Unless you collected jewelry or valuable art throughout your life, an overlooked aspect of most estate planning documents such as wills and trusts is what to do with your lowercase treasures. You may have comics with historic storylines but they’re of a lower quality condition that makes them worth only a few dollars. How will your survivors recognize the good stuff?

Fortunately, a Gay Housewife also likes to make lists. It is very easy to find database software for your home computer or laptop. Simple, easy to use application exist on all platforms. Here’s how you can use them to Make it Nice® in the face of tragedy.

If you leave only an inventory behind of “the good stuff” you will be saving your loved ones a great deal of effort at a time of great sorrow and suffering. You can even put columns in your database to indicate sentimental or material value, or lack there of, along with notes about provenance. You can make a list for “clothes” even if you feel you only have two or three interesting pieces. The categories and criteria are up to you. Go from room to room. Be thorough.

Sections of the database can be printed and/or laminated and used as tables of contents in boxes or albums. You may find that having the database as an overview of what you have enhances your ongoing effort. You might be a serious collector after all!

Update the electronic database as you continue collecting stuff. Regardless of any changes you make to a printed or browser copy of the database, leave a letter in your estate documents directing your executor to the latest electronic version. These suggestions are not intended as a substitute for legal advice and you should always consult with an attorney when preparing your estate plans.

Instruct your survivors to put everything else on a charity truck and use the database to understand the value of anything they may wish to keep or sell online.

Congratulations! You’ve just turned an unspeakably miserable and sad task into another kind of portrait of yourself that the people you love can experience after you’re gone. While you are not your stuff, it will be obvious that it was them you valued most of all.

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