It shouldn’t take much of an imagination, but try to visualize the following scenario. Suppose Dad goes into the hospital for a week and his children lovingly go to his house to get a few items he may need. They enter the home and their jaws drop. They can’t believe the stacks of stuff that has accumulated. Every flat surface is filled with piles of mail and newspapers, there are heaps of dirty laundry, you have to make a path to get to the kitchen and the refrigerator looks and smells like a science project.
You wonder, how did it get this bad so quickly?
If Dad (or Mom) is struggling physically, mentally or emotionally then the simple daily maintenance of a home can become completely overwhelming. There are several warning signs that family members should be looking for. For example, the senior may start to acquire things that they have no use for (hoarding). Or perhaps there is a room filled with things making that room unusable for its intended purpose. Often you may find that they stop having family gatherings or friends to their home because they are embarrassed.
There are also other factors that come into play, especially sentimental attachment. We all have some type of attachment to our “stuff’ which represents a lifetime of memories. The good news is that there are so many ways to save those memories from scrapbooking to storing photos on line. Remember and try to understand the fear they may have about getting rid of things. You have to guide them with logic and understanding, it is okay to let go of the 5 decades of bank statements.
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why adult children will be forced to take on the responsibility of cleaning out your home. Unexpected death of a parent, illness, unplanned relocation to a nursing home or assisted living. More times than not, moving an elderly parent is an unplanned event. It is especially difficult when family members have to get the house ready to be sold.
For those of you in good health, perhaps you should be thinking about your own household. Because most assuredly, if you don’t clean up your own stuff, your children will. Every drawer, every closet, boxes in the attic and the gismos in the garage – nothing will be left unturned. They will be forced to go through the two step process of sorting and deciding which items to dispose of and the dumpster will be in your driveway. None of this is appealing on any level. Start small and ask for help!
More and more we find pre-retirees planning to relocate out of CT for their retirement. CT is not very tax friendly for anyone, especially retirees. Voluntary relocation in retirement also presents the time and initiative for cleaning things up. If you are planning on relocating, start the clean-up process yesterday! Give yourself a few years to plan for this task. It is completely overwhelming and daunting, but has to get done if you want to prepare to put your house on the market. Start now! It is liberating!
Roberta L. Nestor is a financial advisor practicing at 491 New Haven Avenue in Milford, CT offering retirement, long term care, investment and tax planning services. She also offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network – a member FINRA/SIPC and a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products offered through Nestor Financial Network are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Commonwealth Financial Network or Nestor Financial Network does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation. Roberta can be reached at Nestor Financial Network, 203-876-8066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.