10 Tips to Help You with Your Parents’ Move
Your parents’ home holds many memories, and clearing it out can be overwhelming. This list will help you focus your efforts as you move through the process.
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It's tough when you or your parent realizes it's time to sell their home. Maybe their house is just too big for them. Maybe your mom doesn’t move around as well as she once did. Maybe your dad has hit a rough patch in his health. Whatever their reason for moving out, the process of cleaning up and clearing out can be stressful for everyone. If you’ve found yourself in the position of helping them plan their next steps in life, here are a few tips to help keep you organized.
1. Start early
It’s never too early to begin cleaning up. Your parents may have been living in their home for decades, which means it’s full of things they’ve bought and owned over the years. Going through all of this is hard, and it’ll take time. You definitely don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute because that’s the quickest way to run yourself into the ground. If they’re able, work with your parents to sort through their belongings so you can decide what they’ll be able to take with them, and what they’ll need to discard.
2. Talk it out
Don’t neglect your parents’ or your own emotional health. If their home is the one you grew up in, it’ll be just as difficult for you to work through your feelings as it will be for them. Be compassionate, patient, and have open discussions with them to ease the stress and fear of change. Make sure to include all members of your family, like your siblings, so everything can be worked out accordingly. No one wants any bad blood during this difficult and stressful time, so it’s best to take things slow.
3. Gather up all documents
One of the most tedious aspects of helping your parents prepare to move out and sell their home is the paperwork. You’ll probably find your parents and yourself buried under a lifetime worth of bank statements, insurance policies, deeds, and other documents. They will contain sensitive information, so be sure to have a shredder on hand to take care of the documents you can trash. As for the necessary documents, organize them in a binder and keep them with you. Chances are your parents either won’t be able to take it with them or it’ll be safer with you. If your parent has an accountant, be sure to contact them for their assistance.
4. Hire an estate attorney
This is necessary only if your parents haven’t already named either you, one of your siblings or another family member as a beneficiary of the estate. This is a good move to make just in case anything were to happen to your parents before they move out. Not to mention it’s always smart to talk to an expert in matters such as these if you’re unsure of where to begin.
5. Consult your realtor
The best person to talk to early in the process is your realtor. They’ll be able to help you determine what kinds of improvements need to be made to the home to raise its resale value and also what pieces of furniture should remain for staging. People want to be able to see themselves living in a home before purchasing it, so staging is crucial. You don’t want to toss furniture before someone has a chance to see what a room would look like with it.
6. Get the home & household items appraised
It goes without saying that you want to have the home appraised before attempting to sell it. This will also help you determine what kind of fixes you’ll need to make to up the resale value to get the most return. Appraisal of household items, on the other hand, is really just to see if there’s anything particularly valuable. The chances of that are somewhat slim, so you can prepare to either sell anything on Craigslist or simply give it away to charity as long as the item in question is in good repair. If you find anything in disrepair, consider renting a dumpster. Don’t forget to be thorough with the items to ensure you don’t miss anything important like stashed jewelry or cash.
7. Repair & remodel
After you’ve determined what needs to be done by talking with your realtor and getting the home appraised, you’ll need to get to work. Talk with your parents to determine a budget, and then do only what’s absolutely necessary. Don’t forget about the outside of the home too because of first impressions matter. If the sidewalk is cracked or the bushes are overgrown, make sure to do the yard work to ramp up the curb appeal.
8. Donate what you can
It’s a great way to give back and keep things out of landfills, but you can also write off donations on your taxes, which is a huge plus. If you’ve already taken care of furniture, appliances, or other items, make sure to go through clothes, books, and any other miscellaneous items to see if they can be donated to a charity of your choosing.
9. Properly dispose of what you can't donate
Often overlooked by homeowners, there’s a huge probability you’ll encounter hazardous household chemicals and waste that can’t be donated or thrown in the trash. This includes old paint cans, cleaning chemicals, motor oil, broken electronics, and more. Many communities have collection events where you can bring these items to dispose of them properly for a small fee. If your community doesn’t hold such events, try looking around at communities near yours.
10. Don't work alone
Most importantly, you don’t want to be alone during this process. It’ll be extremely stressful and daunting. If you’re an only child, consider enlisting the help of a partner or friend. If you’re among siblings, work together with them to help your parents through this difficult time. Always make sure to include your parents too, as it’s their home and lives. You’ll feel sentimental over many things, and it’s okay to feel attached to them. Think carefully about everything, and don’t make any hasty decisions. Your parents will appreciate your patience and understanding.
Along with the added stress of finding a suitable and safe place for your parents to relocate to, you might begin feeling overwhelmed. As long as you start early and work slowly, you have a good chance of not losing your mind. Good luck; you’ve got this.