Helping Dad Downsize
Most of us dread the day when we need to help dad (or mom) downsize his home. Perhaps home is “just too much” for him to care for anymore. Perhaps he can no longer afford to live in the town that he has called home for over 50 years. Perhaps he needs to downsize due to health reasons. Whatever the circumstance, you want to help your parents make the transition from one home to another, with as little disruption as possible.
Anytime someone faces the task of disposing of a loved-one’s property, they likely face some emotional and logistical pitfalls as well. In an ideal situation, mom or dad already have a plan in place. They have done their leg work and have already engaged an estate planning attorney to create an estate plan. Often times, however, these critical conversations are delayed until there is a family crisis — health, financial, or even death which only adds more strain to an already emotional stressful time.
We want our readers to know that there are professional and caring experts available to help you. Depending on what services are needed, these experts might include estate planning attorneys, senior transition specialists, realtors, or estate liquidators. In the realm of estate liquidators, there are many in the industry. We encourage you to do your homework. Here are some important suggestions for anyone seeking estate help:
■ When talking with prospective estate ask questions such as...
• What services do you provide? (e.g., sale, auction, consignment, appraisal, clean-out, broom-sweep)
• Do you have any references?
• What is your fee structure?
• Will you provide me with a contract/agreement fully outlining all services/fees/etc.?
• What is your process and how long will it take?
• How do you promote your sales?
• How much experience do/does you/your company have handling estate liquidations?
■ Check those references! Make sure the company you are interested in retaining is reputable, professional, and transparent.
■ Read the agreement thoroughly. The agreement should be very clearly written, easy to follow, and should clearly outline the services being offered/provided along with all fees/rates/commissions.
■ How your items are sold is just as important as what is being sold. In other words, look into the method of selling and learn how the provider markets their sales, who their buying audience is, what platforms are used to sell (e.g., traditional estate sale, online auction, online flash sale, consignment, etc.)
■ We cannot say it often enough ... DO NOT THROW ANYTHING AWAY until you have consulted with a professional estate liquidator and/or appraiser. While there will always be some items that are deemed "unsellable," you might be surprised at which items actually have resale value.
■ Be upfront about which items you are planning to keep and which items will be available to sell. This information is critical to the estate liquidator's valuation of the estate and the sale proposal.
■ You don't have to carry this burden alone. This is a time for you to provide emotional support to your loved ones, yes. But if you partner with the right estate service providers, let them do the "heavy lifting" for you. That is, after all, what they love doing.
Whether you or your loved ones are in need of estate services, we hope these tips are helpful. No matter what estate liquidation service provider you chose, we sincerely wish you well in helping your loved one in downsizing his/her home.