Thursday, September 22, 2011

Home Downsizing and Saving Memories

When the time comes to downsize a home, the dilemma is to decide what to do with all your belongings. Whether you need a smaller home because of an empty nest, less maintenance, or for daily assistance, the problem is the same: how do you part with many of your cherished possessions and still retain the precious memories associated with them?

Here are some simple ways to preserve your recollections as you disburse your collections:

Saving memories
• Photographs
Before you start to disassemble your home, take photographs of how each room is arranged, taking care to highlight your most cherished possessions. Ask someone else to take a few pictures with you and favorite pieces, whether they are jewelry, paintings, furniture, or some of the delightful treasures you may have found over the years. Make a few notes about the items, such as how and when you got it, where it came from, who was involved, and anything else you recall.

• Scrapbooks
Scrapbooks can be a wonderful way to house your favorite pictures, notes, and mementos. Keep in mind they don’t need to be elaborate or complicated to serve a purpose. Think of them as memory keepers. Solicit help from family members and friends to create a few scrapbook pages. You might even enjoy throwing a scrapping party with your favorite snacks and beverages.

• Vignettes
Another idea to consider is creating a scrapbook page vignette to tell a particular story. Use photos and some notes or journaling, then frame the single page to hang on the wall. Craft stores, such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby, have shadowboxes or scrapbook frames available in various sizes, as well as custom framing.

Gifts to share
• Early inheritance
If you plan to bequeath some of your favorite possessions to family members or friends, consider gifting them now. You’ll have the pleasure of seeing them use it and pass on the respect that it deserves. You may also decide to allow your loved ones to select their favorite reminders of you. A few years ago, a friend of mine was terminally ill. She threw a jewelry party at her home so each of her loved ones could try on her beloved trinkets and keep their preferences. What a great way to help each of them remember her on a positive note.

• Gifts to children and grandchildren
Another way to start downsizing is to give your children or grandchildren gifts. Check with your financial advisor or tax accountant about gifts up to $13,000 per year per child. After that, you’ll need to file IRS Form 709 for a federal gift tax return. This can be an especially thoughtful way to share some of your assets while you can enjoy the pleasure they provide to others.

• Heirlooms
If you have cherished heirlooms from your ancestors, you may want to have them appraised. That will help the recipient understand the monetary value for insurance purposes. Make sure you tell them the story behind the object to give them a better appreciation of why they are so important to you.

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