Meeting with a mid-age female client this week was an eye-opening experience. Her mother was still living and in a facility, and the daughter was in the midst of starting her life over again in her 50s. The daughter was struggling because her mother was financially strapped; the daughter now supports the mother and the heavy costs of her ongoing care. Facing unemployment herself, she is carrying a burden of monumental proportions.
I was called over to her home to see if there was anything of value that could be sold to keep up with the costs of mom’s care. The daughter’s home was filled with Franklin Mint, Bradford Exchange, Hummel collectibles, Lenox collectibles, Fenton, and any other collectible you can think of that today has very little value. Never mind, these plates cost $39.95 each or more, at the time mom bought them all for her daughter. On Ebay, they sell for $3.99 if they sell at all these days. All of the companies mass-produced these items and mom thought that her daughter could retire on them one day, because she was certain they would be extremely valuable.
Mom spent all of her money on these things that are not only undesirable on the market to most, but they have also cluttered up the daughter’s home. You could see the anger and sadness on her face that “mom bought all of this #*&@# and now she’s broke.”
“Do you have any idea how much money she would have today if she didn’t buy this stuff? Now I can barely make ends meet with her expenses and mine, and I am worried I will get laid off.”
I am not blaming the companies, but it’s worth saying that I see this frequently. They were incredibly smart with their marketing and everyone in mom’s generation felt these collectibles could only go UP in value. But let’s look at it from this perspective … If it’s such a great deal, why would they let tens of millions in on it?
Mom had the best of intentions but she just kept buying against her daughter’s will. The daughter asked her to stop and she didn’t. She bought all of it thinking her daughter could retire on these items one day. Instead, her daughter is working very hard to keep her mother’s care afloat, and having to make grueling decisions on putting mom in a place that offers less care, less amenities, less enjoyment, less everything. This too weighs heavily on the child. The best of intentions went sour in this case.
Moral to the story: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to what you know; stick to time-tested sources of wealth preservation, such as jewelry, gold, silver, etc. Always use your gut instinct and stay away from the TV shopping channels. If you want to leave a powerful legacy for your children, make a plan for your future and set an example for them to follow, when they get to that point in their lives. The best gift a parent can ever give a child is a well-thought out plan for the final chapter in their lives.
©2014 The Estate Lady®
Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent. Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com