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What is Swedish Death Cleaning?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning is a multifaceted process, and not all of it is something you can accomplish on paper. Good estate planning usually involves a lot of heart-to-heart conversations with your loved ones about both your expectations and theirs for your estate – and that sometimes brings about surprising revelations. What you think of as family heirlooms, your adult children may just consider “stuff.”

The harsh reality is that the items your children treasure may not be the same ones you treasure. While you may be emotionally attached to your grandmother’s silver, your adult children may just consider the flatware a useless novelty item. As such, you may be able to pass this meaningful item to someone else during your lifetime who will appreciate it in the ways that you do.

Making things easier on your heirs

Swedish Death Cleaning” is a method of paring down and eliminating a lifetime of accumulated clutter in the years before your death so that your adult children aren’t faced with that task. The goal is to take the burden off your grieving family members once you’ve passed.

How do you go about it? Here are some steps:

  1. Have a conversation about inheritances: Talk to your heirs and find out what they actually want. You may find that they have very clear preferences when it comes to childhood mementos and family heirlooms. If you’re lucky, nobody will want the same things, and you can quickly and easily allocate to each person what they desire in your will. If you’re not, this is a good opportunity to find solutions now – while you are around to make the decisions.
  2. Clear out what you don’t need: You’re encouraged to assess your belongings and start eliminating the things that you no longer actively use or need. Some items may be passed on to loved ones while you’re still alive, while other things could be discarded, donated or sold. There’s a huge amount of emotional freedom to be gained from letting go of things that really no longer serve their purpose.
  3. Give your children permission to get rid of things: You can also make it easier on your children by giving them your blessing to sell or donate whatever you do leave behind once any specific bequests have been distributed. That way, they won’t feel guilty about not keeping everything.

Seeking legal guidance can help you make sure that you fully address the biggest areas of concern in your estate planning, including how to deal with beloved family heirlooms. You can then make informed decisions about your assets during the remainder of your life and after you pass away.