Tuesday, January 6, 2009

selling your parent's house

Preparing or selling your parent's house is a difficult task.

As senior live and age, they tend to collect, well, clutter! I recall my friend having to throw away his late father's high school notes. His father died at age 93! One tip: ensure that you burn or shred old bills and receipts. With the current danger of identity theft you might want to hire a company to shred old pieces of paper for you. I ended up buying banker's boxes, and filing all of the papers my parents had, dividing it up between information on the house, property, taxes, utility bills, during the time I had Power of Attorney. This made life easier later when it was time to dispose of some items.

There may come a time when your parent moves into a smaller home, or into a retirement home, or long-term care. I hope this is a choice, but it is not always so. Theoretically, the senior should be able to sell their home and move to a less expensive, and more suitable location. There are some financial concerns to watch for: reverse mortgages mean that there is not as much money to support the senior, for example.

Once a parent passes over, there are many things that need to be taken care of: passing on clothing, taking Rx to a phthe moving truck on moving dayarmacist to dispose of them safely, informing friends and family of their move, taking furniture to a recycling store. Several charities take donations including: Recycling Matters, a wing of Community Living Ontario; the Canadian Diabetes Association; the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy. My mother's clothes I bagged and boxed and took to a woman's shelter. My dad's things ended up at the Salvation Army store. I cannot tell you how difficult this was for me. People were wonderful, but it broke my heart, while being a normal part of the grieving process.

When I had to move my late parents things out of the house I was over whelmed. I had already rented a locker between the time my mother passed away, and my father was placed into Long-Term Care. There was no hope that dad would recover from his brain tumour, but I could not and should not have decided which things to keep and which to pass on at that time. Both grieving and depressed, it took months to be able to make sensible decisions, and I vow not to do that to my adult children.

In addition, when my husband moved his mom from her bungalow into a senior's apartment, she didn't realize how little she both needed and had room for. Nor would she listen to reason. They had bought and sold antiques, but the sheer quantity of things made this a difficult and complicated task. When he packed up their home he realized that his mom and his step-dad had kept everything from both of their previous homes. The place was crowded with both fine pieces and junk! After paying an auction house to pack up and take away their extraneous things, the money from the auction paid for the costs of moving those things to the auction house!

In a Toronto Star article (a blatant ad for a firm that specializes in helping adult children with aging parents!) mentions a firm, Transition Squad. I don't mind mentioning their name and giving a link. If you can afford it - hire someone to do this job for you. There is so much emotion, angst and grief, particularly if you are pre-grieving, involved in moving mom or dad to a home or acting as executor for the estate.

This firm charges $75 an hour per staff member on the job, with seniors charged $65 an hour per person. I hired someone to take away the garbage I bagged it myself. It was well worth the cost. After trucking and dumping fees, it really adds up.

In preparing to sell the family home you may require:
*local movers
*carpet layers

Ask your real estate agent for names, or neighbours who have used such services. There are some issues with clean-up. Professionals may be required if there are any issues such as smoke, water, or biomatter. In my case, I had to have all of the carpets replaced and we put in new bathroom tiles at the time. My parents were of the generation that liked carpet everywhere, but in their failing health and inability to keep the house, and themselves clean, they were soiled.

I took a room a weekend, I had the luxury, and gave myself manageable goals. If you can, get someone to help. I was alone, my husband off in Ottawa trying to sell our home. This will lower costs.

When we lived in the city it was great.Then, we put anything we didn't want at the end of our driveway. Most things disappeared within 2 hours! At the time we moved, both my boys were moving out into their own apartments. Check with friends to see if anyone needs furniture. That declutters a lot! Donate items to shelters, ask if clubs or schools could use items.

It is a monumental task. I wish you the best of it. See my other post on moving day!

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