I confess I’m one of those people who actually looks forward to spring-cleaning. There are few things I love more than organizing and getting rid of the clutter. For many people, deciding which things to keep and which to get rid of is the hardest part of the job. I am not one of those people. Things that take up too much space or don’t serve a purpose anymore are donated to Goodwill, with one exception. There is one item I’ve never been able to part with: my childhood dollhouse. By every metric, it should have been tossed out years ago. It’s large, it doesn’t get used, and it’s not decorative. Despite every rationalization, I just can’t bring myself to throw it out. I still remember the day my dad gave it to me. It was my 10th birthday party, and he’d asked me to go put something away in another room. Opening the door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Sitting there was a beautiful, hand-carved dollhouse that was three stories tall with seven rooms, a patio, a white-shingled roof, and trim. It was everything I could have dreamed of. My dad certainly believed in wowing his kids. Working in the construction industry, he’d commissioned one of his woodworking friends to build this beautiful toy at home from scratch, which is probably why it’s larger than any dollhouse I’ve ever seen. And the joy didn’t stop with the construction itself. I got to furnish the home. At the time, there was this fancy little shop in D.C. that specialized in doll furniture. It was a magical place filled with handcrafted miniature tables, chairs, and dining sets. Picking out these items and organizing them in my little home brought me so much joy. The hours I spent decorating my dollhouse are probably what made me the avid spring-cleaner I am today. The size of the dollhouse always made keeping it a challenge. My grandma was nice enough to hold on to it for me when I went off to college, but
eventually, she had to call and ask me to take it back or throw it out. It was just taking up too much space. Thankfully, at that point, I had a home with an attic large enough to keep it in, and I’m so glad I did. One of my daughters became very interested in the dollhouse. So naturally, when she turned 10, I helped her do a full remodel, cleaning all the old furniture and even redoing the carpets and wallpaper. Reliving my childhood alongside my daughter and seeing how much happiness the house brought her was a moment I wouldn’t trade for anything. Some things really are worth the clutter. What started as a childhood toy has now become a family heirloom. While my daughters are too old to play with it, they may want to pass it on to their children in the future. Of course, I wouldn’t want my family to fight over it after I’m gone. In a way, my dollhouse needs a doll estate plan. I’m sure your family has its own version of this dollhouse — something you want to keep in the family regardless of how hard it is to find room for it. This item may not be worth a lot of money, but the memories and history surrounding it make it priceless. You probably don’t think of these heirlooms every day; they’re in storage in an attic, basement, or closet. While drafting an estate plan, they may even slip your mind. But when spring-cleaning comes around, and you stumble upon such an irreplaceable treasure, all those happy memories come rushing back. I know that certainly happened to me. If you have such an heirloom, consider including it in your will. Our estate planning attorneys would be happy to help.
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Here’s to life’s treasures,
-Heather Qu ick
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