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Helping Mom and Dad Avoid the "Great Stuff Shuffle": Why a Personal Property Memorandum Matters

As your parents approach their golden years, conversations about estate planning likely take center stage. Wills and trusts are crucial, but there is another important piece of the puzzle: the Personal Property Memorandum (PPM). While it might not sound glamorous, this simple document can save you and your siblings a world of headaches down the line.


What is a Personal Property Memorandum (PPM)?

Think of a PPM as a roadmap for your parents' cherished belongings. It allows them to specify who inherits what – the antique rocking chair passed down from Grandma, Dad's prized record collection, or Mom's collection of hand-painted teacups.  This avoids the dreaded "Great Stuff Shuffle" – that stressful period after a parent's passing where siblings are left to sort through belongings and make difficult decisions about who gets what. Imagine sifting through boxes of photos, debating the value of a childhood toy collection, or arguing over who gets the sentimental teapot. A clear PPM eliminates this emotional tug-of-war, allowing you and your siblings to focus on grieving and celebrating your parents' lives.


Why is a PPM Important for You?

Here's how a PPM benefits you directly:

  • Reduces Family Conflict: Grief and stress can easily lead to arguments. A PPM eliminates ambiguity, minimizing the potential for disagreements about who gets what. You won't have to decipher cryptic notes scribbled on furniture or rely on fuzzy memories to decide the fate of cherished items.

  • Saves Time and Money: Without a PPM, sorting possessions can take weeks or even months, delaying the overall estate settlement process. This can lead to storage fees, legal expenses, and unnecessary emotional strain. A clear PPM streamlines the process, saving you valuable time and money.

  • Honors Your Parents' Wishes:  A PPM ensures your parents' intentions are crystal clear. They can ensure cherished items go to the person who values them most, avoiding the disappointment of a prized possession ending up in the wrong hands. Perhaps your brother has always admired Dad's vintage watch, or your sister has fond memories of reading bedtime stories from Mom's first edition book. A PPM allows your parents to ensure these specific wishes are remembered.

  • Preserves Family Memories: Encourage your parents to include stories or memories associated with specific items. This personalizes the inheritance and strengthens each sibling's emotional connection to their family history. Maybe there's a funny anecdote about the time your family dog chewed on the antique rocking chair leg or a sweet story about how your parents met at a concert represented by a record in Dad's collection. These details breathe life into the objects and create a deeper connection to your parents' legacy.

  • Removes Guilt Of Not Wanting Items: By having your parents create a personal property memorandum, you will not feel guilt over not wanting their items after they pass away. Creating a plan and facilitating conversations before they pass away can save you from being stuck with a second dining room table you have to keep in the basement or storage unit.

How to Encourage Your Parents to Create a PPM

Talking about estate planning can be uncomfortable, but here are some tips to get the conversation started:

  • Focus on the Benefits: Frame the conversation around making things easier for you and your siblings during a difficult time. Highlight that a PPM will save everyone time, money, and emotional stress.

  • Offer to Help: Assist them in gathering information about their belongings and using a PPM template or application. This can be a fun activity done together, reminiscing about cherished items and sharing stories.

  • Be Patient and Supportive: Creating a PPM takes time and reflection. Be patient and supportive throughout the process.  They may need help organizing their belongings, making decisions, or simply feeling comfortable discussing these matters.

A Gift of Clarity and Peace of Mind

By encouraging your parents to create a Personal Property Memorandum, you give them and yourself clarity and peace of mind. They'll know their wishes are documented, and you'll be spared the stress of deciphering their intentions in your memories later. It's a small step that can make a big difference for your entire family. Having a PPM allows the family to focus on celebrating their parents' lives and memories, not wrestling with the burden of and competition for possessions.


Try SaveOr to create the simplest and easiest-to-use digital Personal Property Memorandum on your mobile device or computer, focusing on images and stories behind your items.

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