Andrew Crowell, a financial advisor at D.A. Davidson & Co., a wealth management firm with offices throughout the United States, helped one of his elderly clients organize a scavenger hunt to dispose of her many collections after she died.

The event was outlined by the woman, who collected everything from records, to thimbles to quartz, in a red binder down to the last detail. Upon her death her many friends gathered to “hunt” for her possessions. They were free to keep them or sell them, whichever they chose.

But many clients do not think of planning for this before they die, Crowell says. They make provisions for their money and their other big estate items, but the little things are often forgotten.

Crowell is a third generation financial advisor at D.A. Davidson, which is headquartered in Great Falls, Mont. He is vice chairman of the individual investor group based in Los Angeles.

An advisor Crowell knew solved the problem of disposing of personal items for his client another way. The advisor knew the extended family was gathering for Thanksgiving and arranged for the client and family members to have a portrait taken.

“The client loved it and it acted as a starting point for a family discussion on what to do with the family heirlooms and keepsakes,” Crowell says. “For most clients, the will, the health-care directive and the bank accounts get taken care of. But there is more to an estate than just money, and the personal items often get forgotten.”

Another of Crowell’s clients inherited a collection of antique guns when her husband died. She called Crowell to ask what she should do with them. She did not want to give them to the grandchildren, because she thought it sent the wrong message to them. He found experts to appraise them and the guns were sold to collectors.

A similar issue arose when one of his clients inherited a collection of South African Krugerrands. Did she melt them down, sell them or what? Again, he found a metallurgist to help.

“As financial advisors, we get asked these kinds of questions all the time. It would be better if the client had a family discussion before his or her death to determine what has meaning to the owner and how to dispose of the items,” Crowell says.

“This is a way an advisor can add real value to his services. Start the family discussion about what to do with the objects of sentimental value. Let the family members know who gets which ones, and find out which heirs are interested in particular pieces of jewelry or musical instruments or whatever,” he adds.

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