Does your spouse know who your collecting buddies are?

The story of the 1967 train layout and stash brought up a couple of good questions, even as more facts failed to emerge. If something were to happen to you, would your spouse know how to deal with the collection you’ve left behind?

I think it’s a valid question, and not just for trains.

Here’s the problem. If an “expert” were to venture into our basement and tell my wife, “Oh, that’s all Marx stuff, and there’s not a lot of value in it. Tell you what, I’ll give you a dollar per item since I’m feeling generous,” would she realize it’s a bad deal? And even if she did realize it wasn’t a good deal–would she know where else to turn to get a second opinion? And would she know that a dollar apiece on most of my Atari cartridges probably wouldn’t be that bad?

When others have raised that question, I’ve seen a fair number of cavalier answers like, “I don’t care what happens to them after I’m gone.” And while they’re right, it’s not their problem at that point, I’d personally rather not see my survivors get ripped off. Maybe they don’t need to get top dollar, but that should be their decision, not the result of my neglect.

Maybe my perspective is a bit colored, but I think it’s valid. My dad died when I was 19, and he left a fair number of mysteries behind when he did. A fair number of vultures swooped in too, with some unpleasant financial surprises. It wasn’t a pleasant time, and it’s not something I want to duplicate. So I want my survivors to have whatever options are open to them when it comes to the wordly possessions I leave behind.

But when I think of my very good friends, there’s not a lot of help out there. I have one friend who would know where to look for information on the vintage computer and gaming gear. I have a couple of friends who know trains, but they’re into different scales than I am.

I think I need to make an effort to reach out to some locals who understand those eccentricities. In the disaster recovery field, they call that sort of thing a reciprocal agreement: In the event of something happening, will you help my survivors? And in return, if the opposite happens, I’ll help yours.

It just seems like the right thing to do.

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