I got a note the other day, one like many others I've received over the years at About.com, that started out, "My husband and I inherited a huge collection of minerals, gems and crystals, and then another load of rocks came our way when my mother-in-law moved in with us and she had a collection of very interesting rocks collected by her father in-law (now deceased) who was an amateur geologist. I've been doing a lot of research on my own and have identified about 75% of the stones."
Do you see the problem here?
Standard practice for collectors of minerals and rocks, every book will tell you, is to have a system for recording your specimens. Professional best practice involves painted labels on the stone, a database to track them, and an organized, secure storage setup. Amateurs can get away with a lot less, but they can't get away with nothing at all. If you value your rocks, give them a fighting chance after you pass on or lose interest.
My own stuff isn't museum quality, but it's still interesting. At least I put things in plastic bags with a slip of paper noting what they are and where they came from. At least I stick them in labeled boxes, even if they're stacked in a closet. If my hoard ends up on a rummage-sale table or in a grand-nephew's attic, at least the next owners can take things forward another step if they care to. Otherwise, my stones will have to rely on the kindness of strangers, who may be stymied by about 25% of them. And unlike my email writer, they will know not just what they have, butequally importantwhere it comes from.
Don't leave your rocks orphans.