We all have a story of our aging parents. To be a baby boomer today, is to face our own mortality as we navigate our relationships with our adult children and aging parents.
Boomers, as a whole, are criticized for selfish behavior and self-absorbed character. We weren’t dubbed the “me generation” for naught.
Yet, my purpose is to share what it’s like to cope with aging parents. It’s a journey no generation before has quite mastered, as our parents are not only living longer lives, our culture is now affixed to a quality of life that didn’t quite exist previous.
When it comes to our parents’ home, that’s a doozy in itself.
How long are they able to live by themselves? Perhaps a spouse has passed and mom now lives alone. Up until recent, she’s been doing fairly well and able to care for herself. Her cognitive behaviors, however, have waned and she seems a bit more confused about her daily routine. Maybe she forgets to take all her medication or no longer uses the microwave for those meals that were once easy to prepare.
When to step in?
There are no exact timetables. Families, while a blessing, are a human bunch. The chasm lies within certain family members, who may love one another, though have different thoughts about what to do with the living situation of mom, dad or both parents. One might be adamant to step in and tell dad he must start pondering the thought of moving out of his home. The happened years ago with my dad-in-law. My husband (at the time) told his father, “I’d rather live with your anger dad, than live with the guilt if something were to happen at home and you get hurt.”
The decisions are dynamic.
Selling an aging parents home is not a slam-dunk reaction or resolution. Unlike younger generations thinking of selling a home, seniors need extra time, patience, encouragement, education and above all, empathetic care and concern for what it’s like for the senior. The process varies for all. It’s important to recognize this, as the options may be more than one realizes.
- Keep mom and dad in their house and age in place. Install grab bars in baths, bathrooms. Remove small area rugs and make sure they have a way to alert an ambulance at a moments notice.
- If aging in place, consider some in-home care. Have someone come a few days a week to look after mom. Have a caregiver cook meals, take her to the doctor, be a caring companion while you’re busy living your own life.
- Consider leasing dad’s house, as the asset can be used for assisted living or board and care living.
- Sell the home.
We, as families, are going through our own specific journeys. I want to hear the whole story. Not to gain detailed and needless information, rather, to understand the bigger picture; who your family is, how they relate to each other, how their specific roles intertwine with their parent(s). It is then I’m able to serve my greatest capacity.
To you and your aging parents, I applaud your efforts to care for one another. Take deep breaths and know you’re not alone.
So began my day at preview. Real estate previews are pretty cool. Who doesn’t like looking at houses? I suppose it depends on what neighborhood one previews. In my hood, here in northern part of Orange County, CA sit neighborhoods, their own distinct character and flair. From high-priced sprawling ranch houses to the more moderate suburban residence , the variation of architecture as diverse as its sellers. In any case, I enjoy the variety of the neighborhoods I work in. Today I saw some incredibly beautiful houses; some beautiful simply by sheer aesthetics of columns, others, embraced by warmth and stained glass windows. Affluence is something I’m just beginning to take notice of in my business as I currently have a listing priced at $1,485,000, most expensive one yet.
A conversation took place while driving the neighborhood. In between home tours the subject of leases came up, specifically the amount of work leases require for less money than regular sales. Compensation for doing a lease is usually based on a flat fee versus a percentage from a sale. Depending on each transaction, a lease might produce as little as a hundred bucks, five hundred or somewhere in between. From a strictly economical point of view, representing a client with a sale versus a lease is far more beneficial to the agent. But what about the client? Two successful agents complained about doing a few leases they’d done over the last year. They’re busy, busy, busy. Leases are a bother, a nuisance for many top producers. Listening to their dialogue, I asked myself would I be so busy as to wave aside a low paying lease? Would I be as annoyed with a measly hundred bucks when surely I would make more with a sale? Even if annoyed, what would my client think if they suspected I thought this way?
To be clear, I am not a top producing real estate agent. I’ve never been part of any Golden Club or won a trip to Hawaii based on my sales track record. Nor is my name embossed on a wall for “Salesperson of the Immediate Future.” I think those kinds of goals are ALL worth attaining and I have the utmost respect for fellow agents who pride themselves as such. My business acumen is based on one-on-one service rather than sheer volume.
I’m a Realtor. I like making money. This is my career, my livelihood. Someone’s gotta pay for those extra useless television channels. When I work with my clients, I am at their service. It is an honor to be trusted and relied upon for the service I give. Not all will bond with me nor I with them. When that happens (and it has, always will) I’ve learned the skill to thank them, wish them the very best in their real estate endeavors and walk away. Most times, clients understand the service I provide merely by demonstration. Making $5000k versus $500, pretty much a no brainer. What must be questioned is why that client chose us in the first place. If one ever finds me complaining about the next $100 made on a lease, I’ll treat them to a trip to Target with that money. That’ll probably cover a few t-shirts, beach towels, cleaning supplies, a neon green sports bra with matching leggings and some fancy chocolate candy bars. Not bad for making someone happy about where they live.
La familia, real estate and a trust: what to do, what to do?
There’s ample reason for taking time in making big decisions after a loved one dies. Upon the death of Mom a year and a half ago, first thoughts of what to do with her house: gut the kitchen, new granite tops, tile floor – the intention was to rent it out, make the most of what Mom worked so hard for and keep her legacy alive at the beach.
Let’s face it, beach house + tenants = goldmine, yes? Not so fast, landlord. Time has a way of teaching different perspectives.
Though it seemed logical to keep the beach house for numerous financial and emotional reasons, my bro and I began questioning what he and I really wanted for ourselves. We came to the realization that we each had our own specific goals. Now we had to work together to find the right compromises that would enable us to move forward.
A living trust takes trust. And good faith.
As co-executors, Mom knew very well how well her kids would work together. This escaped me at the time, as one doesn’t think about such things while a parent is living. Once she was gone, brother and sister had to take the time necessary to reconnect with other and to understand where we were in our individual lives. I commend my Mama for taking action and creating a living trust years ago, as well as for having the faith that her children would do the right thing for themselves and for each other. Her preparation has raised a new awareness of our own lives as we now wish to take care of our own kids as she did for us.
The decision to sell Mom’s house, although not easy, now feels right. When a loved one passes on, give yourself time. Breathe, think, feel, mourn. If there’s real estate involved, even more reason. That property ain’t going anywhere. Decisions should be made with clarity. Other people mean well. They may give advice, feel they are helpful yet not understand your exact situation. Most people believe a simple will will allow heirs to handle the sale of a home. Not true. Depending on the situation it’s very likely “probate” will skim some of the sale profits. Consider a trust. It’s a gift of legacy.
Surround yourself with trusted advisors, whether they be personal friends or professionals such as a trust attorney, tax consultant and yes, even a Realtor. Shameless plug? You bet. Call it what you will, pretty convicted about this one. Through my own personal experience, the care and compassion I bring to the table are that much stronger, authentic, to the point and undeniably altruistic. Sharing my personal story of Mom – a way to help you, someone you care about, the objective to simply let others know I understand, I care and if need be, will be there to help.
In the near future, more to share regarding other real estate issues – the purpose, to share, engage and hopefully make one think a little bit, learn a little something. I make a living helping families find their next home. A very cool thing.
Click on link to check out Mom’s house. 🙂
Part one in a series regarding death, assets and trusts, from a professional and personal experience point of view.
Death – gotta deal with it. Morose, you say? Not at all. It’s reality.
We’re all born, we die, we pay taxes. Not necessarily in that order.
Each time I learn of a person’s death, whether it be one I know or through a friend of mine, I’m reminded death is imminent. Even young people are not exempt. Newsflash, I know, yet most are afraid to confront death.
The Greatest Gift
When Mom died sixteen months ago, I had no idea how much I would appreciate the greatest gift she gave. Not a house, estate, specific asset, clothing or rare books. It was her trust, her written instructions of her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) her completed plan and pre-paid cremation. It was her gift of peace.
Before Mom died, death played little part in my life. My grandparents passed away years ago, that experience a further distance from one’s own parent. I am in a quandary whilst dealing with another family member, not knowing for certain what their plan is. It’s causing anxiety in me. The anxiety stems from little to no cooperation, the hesitation from the family member to share pertinent information which is necessary to help them. Why such hesitancy? How much does fear reflect inaction? If not for the recent experience of Mom’s death, there would be less anxiety, as I now under understand, fully, completely the significance of her gift.
Expect the Unexpected
It was brought to my attention today at my weekly meeting that a colleague’s neighbor passed away last night, completely unexpected. In addition, he was young (mid-forties) and not married though lived for years with his girlfriend. Evidently, no will, trust in place. Of course this is all hearsay, though got me thinking a lot about Mom’s death and my own mortality.
While married, my husband and I were on the ball regarding a trust. As one was put together for my dad-in-law, he and I wasted no time having the attorney do one for us as well. At the time (almost 10 years ago) I didn’t hesitate having it done, yet didn’t see the value either. As parents of younger kiddos at the time, hubby and I weren’t gonna leave this earth anytime soon. But it made sense at the time, mostly due to simple default: almost a two-for-one.
Recently divorced, I shall begin the process of having a new trust written up in my own name. No longer dependent on my ex-husband to proceed with such matters, I’m awake, paying attention and taking note of my life – and my death. My children, both adults now, will not be put in a precarious place upon my death. They will experience my death though they will also experience my gift – the gift of peace, protection and love.
One not need be an old person to confront death. I find the more I deal with this subject straight on, fear diminishes.
How prepared are you for your loved one’s death? Are they prepared or do they need your assistance? Are you having difficulty helping them confront their own mortality or even discussing the subject of death in general? Help and resources abound. Where to turn, whom to trust?
Next time, resources and different options in confronting loved one’s regarding death.