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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Jewelry Visitation

 

Margaret’s home was located in a prestigious neighborhood and when I first came to see her I was impressed by a couple things. First, the home and gardens were beautiful and obviously well maintained and, second, every table top, countertop and floor surface was covered with “stuff.” Mari, as we came to call her, was a hoarder. However, Mari’s obsession ran to the finer things of life – tables held Waterford crystal decanters and Wedgwood china bowls filled with Swarovski crystal ornaments and hallways were lined with box after box of Salvatore Ferragamo shoes – never opened, never worn.

 

Mari’s only child had died of cancer at a young age and, several years prior to our meeting, her husband had also died. Mari felt alone in the world so she filled her days – and presumably tried to fill the hole in her heart – with trips to San Francisco that included buying sprees at high-end stores like Tiffany and Nordstrom. Hoarding is most common in people who suffer from depression and anxiety and it appeared that Mari suffered from both.

 

As Mari aged she became more anxious and began to suffer from dementia. For her own safety, Mari agreed to move to a facility that would provide her with more day to day support and supervision. Once we found a place that suited her accustomed manner of living, we moved in some of her personal furniture and décor so she could feel somewhat more “at home.” Almost without exception, facilities for the aging make residents sign liability waivers that, should personal property be lost, the facility is absolved from responsibility. Essentially, facilities take the position that if something comes up missing, it could be the actions of visitors, other residents or staff and it is impossible to prove whose sticky fingers may be to blame.  

 

Mari loved her luxuries and especially her jewelry much of which was bought while Mari and her husband traveled the world. A yellow topaz ring purchased in Brazil, a sterling silver heart on a chain that her husband had given her at the birth of their daughter – items that were truly meaningful to Mari and that gave her comfort and joy. However, we could not leave these treasured and valuable pieces at the facility – they could be lost or stolen which would cause Mari certain heartbreak.

 

What can be done when a loved one is safest in a facility but still wants and should have the pleasure of enjoying their finer belongings? We did a few things: first, we had the items appraised and insured and then placed them in a safe deposit box at a nearby bank. Thereafter, we would take various pieces to the facility so they could “visit” Mari. It seemed odd at first – “jewelry visitation” – but proved to be the perfect solution. Mari would enjoy them for a few hours under our watchful eyes and then the items were returned to the box. As we age, much is taken from us. Visitation with cherished items or having certain items with us that we love can remind us of the full and rich life we enjoyed and, hopefully, make our final months or years all the more happier.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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