Collecting vs Saving vs Hoarding

Tobacco tins filled with hardware

 

Executors are tasked with the responsibility of collecting, valuing and distributing or disposing of all items in an estate.  There are times that I’ve heard “Oh, what a hoarder!” when this was far from the truth.  Yes, some of us may have too much stuff.  Some of it may be in a great big muddle.  But what is the difference between collecting, saving, and hoarding and is it important?

I sum it up this way:

Collecting is a pastime, an enjoyable hobby, the seeking out of specific items to complete a set or group.  Collectors show off their items.  The collection is a source of great pride to the owner.  Often there is an organized space dedicated specifically to their display.  You may often find books, catalogues and price guides.  Collections, although not all, can be valuable – stamps, hot wheels, buttons.  Clubs and conferences bring together like-minded individuals to share stories, swap items or buy and sell.  Often a buyer can be found for almost any sort of collection.

Saving is most often found in people who have been without and do not want to be in that position again.  They understand what it is to have limited resources.  It is often found with the elderly who have endured an economic depression or who have lived through a war or period of conflict.  For example, rationing continued for a number of years after the end of World War II, so saving became a necessary habit.  “Savers” are people who would, and had to, make do with what could be found.  “You never know when I might need that” – scrap metal, mechanical components, various hardware.  Generally of limited value but there can be treasures found.

Hoarding touches on both collecting and saving but is neither.  It is a medically-recognized disorder.  Hoarders do not show off their “stuff” – it is private, often a defense and a source of shame.  The items take over an area rather than be contained.  In extreme cases, there is a potential danger (often unseen by the hoarder) due to fire or collapse.  For an executor it is hard to find the necessary paperwork needed and items bequeathed, but you will have to go thought everything.  Depending on the conditions there may be items of great value found.

As the executor you can be held liable if items, even if seemingly of little or no value, are missing.  Do your research before throwing anything away.  It is a huge job and an equally huge responsibility looking after the affairs of another, particularly one of whom you cannot ask “What is this?”  If unsure, get the opinion of a professional personal property appraiser.

 

About Penny Schneider

Penny Schneider, TEP is a Trained Professional Organizer who works specifically with executors on estates. On the 1st of each month Penny writes short pieces about things important to executors (what to do when) and on the 15th with things an executor might find (what to do with). Penny assists clients throughout Toronto, York Region and the surrounding area.
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