Generational Clashes Come in the Form of Valuing Family Heirlooms

From shorter dresses in the 1920s to the peace, love and promiscuity of the 1960s, each new generation brings differences in lifestyles and beliefs. Outside of the political butting of heads between young people and older people today, there is a material issue with family belongings. Think grandma’s china set or grandpa’s antique books. What are the younger generations of families supposed to do with so much stuff owned by older family members?

As Millennials and Generation Zs begin to form their own lives, many have the task of taking in family items from aging baby boomers and parents of baby boomers who are downsizing or moving into assisted living homes. However, the nature of and amounts of material things are much different in the minds of Millennials and Generation Zs. Those from these generations are more likely to be minimalistic. Children of parents who lived through the Great Depression and World War II kept more personal items as the financial turmoil of those eras created feelings of instability among average Americans. Families did not relocate as often or as easily as people do today. Elderly people do not often relocate in contemporary society either. Therefore, items accumulate. Plus, in today’s world of speed and convenience, younger people do not hold onto items as long as their parents and grandparents. This means that they are also less inclined to hold onto family items. Even phones only last around two to three years and people may only keep furniture for a few years before replacing those items as well.

Millennials and Generation Zs could be inheriting valuable items, but may not have the time, resources or interest to find out if they are valuable or not. These are missed opportunities as costs of caring for elderly family members are high. When elderly loved ones downsize or move into communities of assisted living, items that they no longer need can be used to help pay for their care or living expenses. This is where state and personal property appraisers come in. Due to the vast amounts of baby boomers entering their golden years, as this was a much larger generation than those proceeding it, more and more young people will need to assess family heirlooms and valuables within the coming decades.


Images: The New Yorker, CBC, MySuburbanLife