What happens to your gear when you die?

How’s that for a title? I’m helping a widow sell her late husband’s ham gear. Things are going quickly as a local ham bought most of the newer gear based on recent sale prices from eBay and the QRZ.com swapmeet forum. Had she not reached out to the local club, it’s likely she would have sold thousands of dollars of gear at a yard sale for pennies, or simply sent it to recycling.

This got me to thinking…does my wife know who to call to dispose of my gear should something happen to me? While probably not high on the things to do list if I pass suddenly, it sure would be a good idea to have a list of hams I trust in a folder for her.

There are some great hams out there – I met another one over email this week who spends hundreds of dollars a year to provide data services for other hams. But there are also crooks and thieves that would rob a widow blind. Do your significant other a favor…leave behind a list of hams you trust.

Michael Brown, KG9DW, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Illinois, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

9 Responses to “What happens to your gear when you die?”

  • Matt W1MST:

    That’s a great question, Mike. I know that I want my ham radio gear donated to a worthy cause.

    I’ve always seen the ads for WB2JKJ The Radio Club of Junior High School 22 asking for donations of ham radio gear. For all I know, it’s legit but I really don’t know for sure. Maybe they sell the radios to generate funds — I don’t know. They seem to also sell photocopies of old radio manuals. I’m not sure how this does/does not support the education mission. So, I guess that’s one option.

    The second option (which I like even better) is to donate what I have to the Courage Kenny Handiham Program. Although I’m sure they don’t want boat anchors, I’m sure Patrick would be interested in useful gear to further his group’s mission (he can be reached in the US at 1-866-426-3442).

  • Howard VK3QA:

    My friend at the club has one fear that his wife will sell his ham gear at the prices he told her he paid for it!

  • peter kg5wy:

    Good post Mike.

  • Matt W1MST:

    Howard, I almost spit out my coffee!

    I think your friend at the club is not the only ham worried about that!

  • Karl N7DMA:

    Something similar happened to me this past summer. One of my elmers passed away, and told his wife that he wanted me to have all his gear.

    Some of it I’ve given away to new hams. The tower, and antenna farm was sold to another ham, and the proceeds went back to her. Some gear is being donated to my ham club, and a couple of items I kept, to be used and loved by me in memory of K7CEC.

    Thanks, Gene! I’m enjoying the Jupiter very much!

  • Matt W1MST:

    I’d much rather my gear go to a good home than be sold off for cash.

    (Of course that’s easy for me to say — the cash won’t do me much good).

  • I did a HamRadioNow program on this called “Before You Die”


    It’s a talk with our local “estate guru” Chuck Littlewood K4HF. He’s done dozens of them across the region.

    And in the “One Big Knob” program, Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH said “If you ever hear that I’m dead, rush to Gettysburg (his home). You’ll get some great bargains. I told my wife everything I bought cost $100.”

  • Matt W1MST:

    Loved that quote from Riley — in fact I laughed out loud when I heard it.

    If you haven’t heard the talk, it’s worth your time (as usual).


  • Jonathan KA8KPN:

    Three years ago K5LDD, an acquaintance of mine, passed away. In addition to being a ham, he was a computer and networking hobbyist. He had discussed with his wife who should help her with dismantling his station, his computer network, and his rather elaborate telephone system, and I was the person he suggested. I sold most of the gear and have spent much of the last three years dismantling everything.

    I did keep the HF rig that wasn’t working. I have since had it repaired and it’s now in regular use.

    I also spent a lot of time doing some preemptive dismantling of my own rather complicated home network. The ham gear will be a piece of cake to dispose of by comparison.

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