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Ben Brown

What to do with late parents' stuff?

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My dad passed away five years ago, and Mom is now in a nursing home with dementia and balance problems. Her house is unoccupied, so we need to clear it out and sell it. The furniture and all of that can go in an estate sale, but what do you do with old family photos dating back to the 1800s, immigration papers, diplomas, and general stuff they kept from their ancestors, and the other odds and ends that were valuable to my parents, but not to the rest of the family?

 

I'm not the least bit sentimental about the vast majority of this stuff and I've already taken the few things of my dad's that mean a lot to me. My sister isn't interested in most of the stuff, nor are my daughters. There is nobody left on my dad's side of the family and only an uncle and a couple of cousins on Mom's side, so we can't send the stuff to family. I'm happy to throw out the tons of photos of me as a kid, and we already have duplicates of the pics with my own kids. It seems a shame to throw the very old photos and some of the other things in the dumpster, but I don't want to clutter up my own house and leave a bunch of crap for my daughters to go through some day. 

 

Ben

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Just went through this. Donate to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Whats left goes to

the landfill or incinerator. Destroy all documents to prevent identity theft. I shredded

and or burnt.HTH- jon

Edited by jonwinn

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Is there a local historical society who might take some of those photos dating back to the 1800s?

I would be inclined to retain the immigration papers and diplomas in case a member of the family's next generation becomes interested in genealogy.

But then my outlook is affected by my paternal Grandmother in mid 1990s throwing away pretty much all the family historical stuff because,

"Why should anyone want stuff that's about dead people."

 

 

Destroy all documents to prevent identity theft.


Sad thing that that is a factor nowadays.

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You could scan them and save them electronically, while shredding the paper copies.  Just a thought.  I have a ton of my maternal grandparents' records, including my grandpa's enlistment and discharge papers from WWI.  Pretty interesting; not much has changed militarily, as far as paperwork goes, in 100 years or more.

 

Tom

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Thanks for the suggestions. I went through the house and “sanitized” it of anything that had account or social security info on it soon after we moved Mom to the rest home. Now we’re slowly going through the family stuff and it seems like an overwhelming task. So many old photos of unknown people, and Mom’s dementia is to the point where she doesn’t remember who’s in the photos. I’m definitely keeping  my dad’s and his dad’s military papers and photos. We’re also hanging onto the family’s genealogy files.

 

Ben

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Thanks for the suggestions. ... We’re also hanging onto the family’s genealogy files.

 

Welcome! Sounds like a plan.

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Keep the family photos and documents. You'll forever regret letting that stuff go and it's something you'll never get back. 

As has been said above, museums might have anni interest in historical records. 

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All of the family photos and such are now set aside. I just came home from going through their attic. Found a box of Dallas newspapers and Life magazines covering the Kennedy assassination! 
 

Ben

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