One of life’s most challenging aspects is watching our parents age. Then comes the day when you, and they, realize they’ve lost their physical independence.
Whether they are downsizing into a smaller, less maintenance-intensive home or are moving in with you or to a care home, giving up a long-loved home is heart-wrenching, to say the least.
Thankfully, they have you and you have me and I have tips to help your parent or parents — and you — through this tough time.
Get legal advice
You may be required to use the proceeds of the sale to pay for your parents’ care if they will be moving to an assisted living facility or long-term care facility and will require Medicaid to pay for their care.
Speak with your attorney early in the process to learn about the complex aspects of selling an elderly parent’s home.
If you don’t already have an elder care attorney that you know and trust, please get in touch with me and I will refer you to one that I know here in Sarasota that I’ve trusted with my own family, friends, and clients. Your elder care attorney may also be able to help you identify some alternative financials that could help you and your family pay for care.
Line up some labor
Cleaning out a family home is a HUGE job so don’t try to tackle this alone. If you have siblings, enlist their help as much as possible. In fact, insist on it.
Not only will you need their muscle but having family around may help ease your parents’ transition as well. The more emotional support the better at times like this.
If you don’t have any family available to assist you with the move, hire some help. Visit the neighbors to let them know what’s happening and ask for a referral to local manual laborers. Who knows? They may volunteer to help. I am also more than happy to connect you with someone in Sarasota to help you with this challenging process.
Hire a Sarasota real estate agent
It may seem that it’s too early in the process to hire a listing agent, but I disagree, and here’s why.
Your agent should see the home before you start moving things out of it. Advice on what to leave for staging purposes is absolutely invaluable.
Ask for tips on whether to paint, replace carpet and other updates that will make the home more attractive to potential buyers.
Your Sarasota real estate agent will also be able to refer you to an estate sale company (if needed to help get rid of belongings), cleaners, painters and more. For example, I have an estate attorney that has helped a long list of my past clients here in Sarasota and has even handled a lot of my own affairs. He’s amazing and I would be more than happy to refer you to him if you need a top-notch estate attorney right here in Sarasota.
Hiring an agent early in the process also allows Mom and Dad to get to know the agent and feel more comfortable about the sale process. Often in times like this, helping your parents to still feel as though they are involved with the process helps to ease some of the anxiety surrounding the situation.
Move first, then sell
Because it’s so important for the homeowner not to be present during buyer showings, most experienced real estate agents will counsel you to move your parents out of the house before putting the property on the market.
If they need the equity from the current home to move, however, come up with another solution. Perhaps they can stay with you or a sibling until the home sells. I understand that many situations are unique and I have plenty of resources at my disposal to help tackle any challenge.
It’s time to purge
Purging a lifetime of belongings (and memories) will be the most challenging aspect of downsizing for your parents. What to keep, what to get rid of, what to sell or donate will be decisions not easily made.
“ … the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past and their memories,” claims Sarah J. Stevenson, an elder care specialist.
It’s not really the items, it’s the memories attached to them
One way to ease your parents’ reluctance is to promise them that you will photograph everything they decide to get rid of and place the photos in a lovely scrapbook that they can take with them to their new home.
Or, if they prefer, you can video their cherished-but-leaving items. This way, they’ll still be able to refresh those memories. This can be particularly valuable if your parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
Still, unless the parent is suffering from dementia, it’s important to allow him or her to take the lead in the purge. Yes, it might be slow-going, but it’s important that, in the future, they don’t look back and feel they were railroaded into getting rid of certain items. That could lead to painful feelings of resentment that could damage your relationship and level of trust.
Gather trusted family members together to go through your parents’ purge pile. As one elderly woman in an online forum stated, “It is SO much better to know cherished family things will continue on.” For many, this is about legacy, so the more that you honor that the easier this transition will be for everyone.
Have conversations with Mom and/or Dad about these items and the stories behind them. This helps ease their anxiety and lets them know that the memories associated with the items will live on.
Have questions about selling Mom and Dad’s house?
I understand that this is a very difficult moment if your family’s story. However, putting things off and procrastinating will only make things more difficult for everyone involved when things come to a tipping point. The earlier that you address the idea of possibly selling now, in six months, or in two years, the easier it will be for everyone involved!
No matter how soon or far-off you think you might need to sell your family’s house, you will be doing yourselves a favor to get things in order today. The more time you have before you sell, the more time we have to get everything in order for you to make that moving time as easy as possible.
I would be honored to assist you and your family with this transition in any way that I can. Whether you just have some questions or desperately need to sell the house now, I’ll be there to help you see through this intense and emotional maze and protect your best interests. Feel free to email me, text me, or give me a call at (941)350-0016 and let’s make a plan that benefits you and your family for now and in the future.