My father squirrels cash, coins and jewelry all over the house. When his sister died and we went through her house, we found cash in a number places, like old cookie jars. I know that so many of my father’s friends are doing the same. Any suggestions for them?
– Sherlock Holmes on Stewart
Dear Sherlock on Stewart:
As an estate attorney, I often ask if there are hidden items, especially with my single clients. I am shocked to hear where people hide valuables. Confessions include hiding things in the freezer, in fake books, under the oven, in fake aerosol cans, pants pockets, stuffed in ottomans and (yes) in cookie jars.
While it is great to keep things safe from robbers and easy to access, hiding things could be maddening for your heirs. (If we find money in an ottoman, we often wonder what else we have missed!) One client of mine was convinced that her aunt hid $10K in the walls, but the house sold before anything could be done about it. Good luck, new owners!
There are many ways to approach this, but one suggestion is to make a list of hidden items and keep it in a sealed envelope in your estate planning binder or in a safety deposit box. You should think about this and have a meeting with your estate attorney and/or very trusted family members or friends to discuss a strategy. Don’t let that diamond bracelet accidentally go to Goodwill!