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When it comes time to assist your parents during their transition to retirement, one of the beginning steps can be having a conversation about downsizing. There are several values to downsizing for retirement. First and foremost, ensuring your parents’ safety might mean they need a smaller house. But it can also mean helping them sort and categorize their belongings. While to you, this task might seem straightforward, to your parents this can seem like the closure of a season. Each belonging is imbued with memories of their lives with you and even before you; to your parents these belongings can be treasures. Here’s some tips on how to respectfully manage the process of helping them minimize and prepare for a new phase of life.
- Downsizing the stuff.
Determining which belongings are necessary to keep requires time and patience. You and your parents might not see eye to eye during this process and while that can be frustrating, it’s important to hear their perspectives. According to specialists whose job is to help seniors make this transition, it’s one of the most difficult parts of retiring. Squeezing the contents of a full house into a one or two-bedroom home means letting go of the miscellany collected over the years that’s steeped in very real emotional history. However, you can keep the conversation moving towards action by letting your parents share their stories and keeping a practical mindset. This practicality can take the form of questions or a checklist. Asking things like, “When was the last time you used this?” Or, “Is this item something that’s crucial to your daily routine?” can help parents conceive of your reasoning without putting the burden of responsibility entirely on them. Here’s a great checklist you can use as a guide when getting started.
- Downsizing the house.
The entire process of downsizing, from belongings to property, is very time consuming and difficult to go through alone. Being there for your parents as they wade through paperwork, listings, packing, and moving, can greatly ease their anxiety about the process. When you’ve finally reached a consensus about the need to downsize, the next step is discussing what your parents need out of their new location. Some good questions to ask might be, should the house be one floor? How close is it to local amenities? Is the neighborhood safe? Are the surfaces and fixtures of the house suited to an elderly resident? Having an open and honest conversation with your parents about both their physical needs and emotional needs from a new home can get the ball rolling while helping both parties feel listened to.
Another option is hiring a senior moving management specialist who can be there when you can’t. These professionals have backgrounds in gerontology or social work and are trained to help seniors declutter, meet with realtors, organize their finances towards the purchase of a home, as well as interview and supervise movers.
When you’re working with your parents to downsize, the process can seem endless. Having professionals with industry experience on hand might make that easier. Not to mention, their experience might help you see where you aren’t well prepared enough to best support your parents through this transition. If you’re considering the cost of hiring the pros and feeling like it’s out of your reach, remember, there are some unique ways of generating that extra income. For example, a life settlement. If your elderly loved one still maintains a life insurance policy they no longer need, did you know they can sell all or a portion of that policy for more than the cash surrender value? This is called a life settlement, or viatical. Contact Life Settlement Advisors today to learn more about the life settlement process or see if your parents pre-qualify.
Carl and Eleanor purchased a large joint survivorship life insurance policy many years ago for estate tax liquidity. Now that the tax laws have changed, they no longer need the policy. Eleanor contacted the trustee of the policy and discovered they could sell the policy for $230,000. Carl and Eleanor terminated the trust and distributed the funds to their adult children.