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Estate Planning For Your Embarrassing Personal Property

prsnlEarlier this month the New York Times published an article titled “The Sex Toys in the Attic.” The article proposes asking a trusted person—dubbed “The Eradicator”—to immediately remove the embarrassing items from your home after your death (or as a precaution, before you go into the hospital for surgery). This person is entrusted with the key to your home and the locations of the items to be destroyed. Such items include anything that may tarnish your memory in the eyes of your family and friends: journals, love letters from an old flame, or—how can I put this delicately—those “artistic” videos and the magazines you only read for the articles.

Of course, some may find this idea silly. After all, you aren’t around anymore to be embarrassed, so why should you care? But if you do decide there are items that need to disappear after you leave this world, exercise caution when selecting your Eradicator. First, if you have a falling out, your Eradicator may be tempted to remove those items prematurely while you are still living—and share the sordid details with the world. Second, in the case of items such as journals or letters that you don’t want anyone to read, this person must be trusted not to peek after you are gone, but to quickly and discretely dispose of the items, no questions asked.

Whether you find this idea ridiculous or indispensable, thinking about whom you would choose as your Eradicator is a great way to jump start the estate planning process. “Honey, you know the top drawer of our dresser—I don’t want the kids going through it if we both die . . . “ can be a light-hearted lead-in to more serious discussions about health care decisions, beneficiary designations, and guardians for your children.

Oh, and one more thing. If my Chicago friends are reading this and I’ve met an untimely demise—somebody please pick my clothes up off of the bathroom floor before my mother arrives in town.