Whether you're a hunter or a gatherer, we all end up not taking our possessions with us

Pygmy hunter gatherers in the Congo 1983

Pygmy hunter gatherers in the Congo 1983 - Credit: Piers Motley-Nash

Exmouth auctioneer Piers Motley-Nash writes for the Journal.

Piers Motley-Nash

Piers Motley-Nash - Credit: Piers Motley-Nash

It's amazing how little we need: looking at the few hunter gatherer societies left in the world this includes a means to catch food, a source of water and materials to make shelter (often out of sticks and leaves for just one night).

However, since the earliest civilisations there have been some who have wanted adornments and possessions to make them happy or stand out in the crowd: whether this be in life from the stone age with people wearing shell and ivory beads to the super yacht 'HISTORY SUPREME', owned by Malasia's richest man, which cost $4.8 billion and is quite literally made out of gold. 

Or in death from the burial's in the Great Pyramids or the truly mind boggling mausoleum of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang which is a mere 3.9 miles in circumference and has its own army, albeit made of terracotta!

Part of my job is to provide probate valuations after someone has died, sadly bringing to mind the quote '...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes' as possessions can often be taxed after death.

The Worldly Possessions people leave behind varies enormously. I have been to properties where the content of the porch have been worth more than the entire contents of someone else's house!

The most expensive probate valuation I have done was for an old family who have lived in the same house for seven generations and despite numerous bouts of death duties still had contents worth nearly half a million pounds. 

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Sometimes I go into houses where people are living in sparse and uncomfortable conditions, such as no central heating, despite having £100,000's in the bank. Other times I can go into a home where it is full of personal possessions and comfortable living, but the probate for the entire contents is less than £200, perhaps with no new possessions having been bought for 30 or 40 years.

What is certain is we can take none of it with us and when it comes to the end our richest treasures are the moments we have enjoyed with family and friends.

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