I frequently address the question: “What do we do when the time comes to downsize or liquidate an estate?”
This month I am pleased to join forces with Linda Kennett, a wonderful lady who has been in the liquidation business for more than 20 years. She has helped many folks with their downsizing needs. In this column she will share some ideas on how to make the job of dealing with your loved ones’ property easier.
I hope you find her suggestions useful, and remember ... we are always happy to come to your home for a no-obligation visit. Just call 317-783-9627.
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It is one of those things that is inevitable and yet we still procrastinate. Our parents are well into their retirement years and are still in the home where you grew up. The taxes, insurance and maintenance are eating up their disposable income, and the home that once brought them so much joy has become a burden.
They would love to downsize, but the task before them looks insurmountable. Yes, downsizing can be draining, or as a client of mine once described it, “The experience was rather like a combination root canal and colonoscopy.”
Whether the anticipated move is next month or next year, the sooner you get started, the better. Here are three simple steps that you can work on with your parents to make their downsizing easier.
• Step 1: Sort all personal papers and photographs. Take this a room at a time and pitch as you go. You will need a shredder, trash bags, a sharpie and several large storage tubs with lids.
A good place to start is the least used bedroom. Check drawers, closets, desks and file cabinets. All photos go in one tub, current medical records and insurance papers in a second tub, bank statements and tax returns in another, etc.
This chore comes down to a balancing act between practicality and sentimentality. Don’t be afraid to pitch the unnecessary, but don’t discard those things your parents deem of value. The tricky part comes with those things that fall into a gray area.
• Step 2: Thin down the closet and the cabinets. Sort the clothing into three categories: things that can be worn, things to go to charity and items that need to be discarded. Box the clothing to be donated and call a thrift store for pick up, bag up the things to be discarded and sort the remaining clothing by seasons. Use the same approach with the kitchen cabinets and the linen closets. Clothing and heavily used kitchen items will most likely not be accepted by an auction facility, so don't hesitate to donate these items.
• Step 3: Discuss the division of family heirlooms. I recently worked with a lovely woman from Hancock County who had seven children, all of whom lived out of state. At her request I did an inventory of the items in her home that she thought her children might want. Upon receipt of the list each of the children marked three things that they would like to have and returned the list to their mom.
One final piece of advise. This is your first step in preparing to liquidate your parent’s estate. The more you can do to have their personal effects in order, the easier that job will be when the time comes.