When Reality Sets In – Dealing With the Stuff in the Family Home After the Loss of Your Parents

It had been a week since Dad’s funeral, and life was getting back to normal for Sharon. Despite the sadness of the occasion, it had been nice to be with her brother and sister and their families. She hadn’t been to her dad’s house since he went into the hospital. She dreaded walking into the empty house, knowing it contained a flood of memories. As she got in her car to drive across town to the house she grew up in, the lump in her throat grew. She thought about all the happy times around the dinner table, and many other memories. As she unlocked the door and stepped into the house, emotion gave way to panic: “What are we going to do with all this stuff?”

I describe Sharon’s response as the “deer in the headlights” look, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times as I’ve helped people settle their parents’ affairs. The sadness of losing your last surviving parent quickly turns to dread, frustration, even anger, as a lifetime of accumulation hits you like a brick. Some families struggle for months to liquidate their parents’ estates, but by following a few simple steps, you can clear your parents’ home in less than two weeks. Here’s how.


Eighty percent of the contents of most estates are either donated or thrown away. Contact a local refuse company to let them know additional trash will be placed at the curb. Collect boxes for smaller objects and buy plenty of heavy-duty trash bags. Select an organization, such as Goodwill, Kidney Foundation, or local religious organization, for things you’ll donate and contact them about pickup service.

Enlist Your Siblings

Ideally, all surviving adult children should participate — it saves time and gives everyone an opportunity to select anything they want to keep. The more you communicate with your brothers and sisters, the less chance of hard feelings and conflict.

Locate Important Documents

This could be difficult if you didn’t discuss important documents with your parents, which is why it is so important to have this conversation when your parents are healthy. Most older people keep their important papers in one place, such as a “strong box”, safe, or filing cabinet. What to look for: a will, bank account information, insurance policies, retirement and investment accounts, titles to cars and the house, location of keys, contact information of attorney and financial planner, etc.

Get Professional Help

At the very least, enlist the services of an “estate planning attorney” to help you settle any accounts listed above. If you believe there are valuables among your parents’ possessions, hire a personal property appraiser to determine what those items are worth. If you decide to sell the house, contact a realtor.

Take Inventory

Walk through the house with a notebook and list anything that has either financial or sentimental value. Make copies of the list and give it to your siblings.

Divide the Contents Among Siblings

Use a common spreadsheet to record the “wish list” of each heir. Have an appraiser assign values to each item on each wish list for financial equity, and to avoid additional feuding. For items that several heirs want, have an objective third party select names from a hat, if you can’t agree to share or distribute these items. Division of property should take place with only the children present; no in-laws or grandchildren, please.

Set a Date to Empty the House

Work with your siblings to find a date when they can help clear out the house together.

Establish Three Collection Areas

Before you start hauling things out, determine areas for things you will keep, things you will donate, and things you will discard. This will eliminate confusion and thus reduce the time it takes to clear everything out.

Be Fair and Share

On the day you clear out the house, give your siblings a chance to walk through once more and select things they would like to have. If there are disputes, aim for “financial equity.” If both brothers want dad’s hunting rifle and there was no will to specify who gets it, one gets the rifle and the other gets something of equal value. This is where most disputes occur, so try to establish some ground rules before you start. Be willing to share the item with a sibling, if possible.

Start From the Top

On the day you clear out the house, begin in the attic and systematically work your way down. If you have enough people, work in pairs and create assembly lines.

Be Safe

Gloves, dust masks, insect spray, ladders, hand tools, etc. will protect everyone from unnecessary injury and make the job run smoother.

Be Green

Consult with refuse haulers and local environmental agencies for information on how to safely dispose of old batteries, cleaning solvents, paint, etc.

Check the Hideouts

If your parents lived through the Depression, there’s a good chance they hid their valuables. Favorite hiding places include toilet tanks, ice cube trays, books ($100 bills randomly placed between pages of books), mattresses, beneath floorboards in the attic.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out or Recycle

You will be tempted to keep everything: don’t! It will just clutter up your own house, putting your kids through the same thing some day. You’ll get done a lot faster if you are quicker to toss than to keep.

Make It Fun

Put some of Mom and Dad’s favorite music on the stereo. Have plenty of snacks and cold drinks, and order some pizza or sandwiches. If you run across something with a funny story behind it, share it with your family.

Cleaning out your parents’ home is hard work complicated by the emotional impact of revisiting so many memories. Following these basic steps won’t make it easier, but you’ll get the job done faster. This task may even bring you closer to your siblings than you realize.

copyright 2009, The Estate Lady

Julie Hall, known as The Estate Lady, is a professional estate liquidator and certified personal property appraiser. With more than eighteen years experience, she has assisted thousands of individuals in the daunting and often painful process of managing their deceased parents’ affairs. Her experience has been sought across the United States and Canada on radio, TV, and newspaper media including Bloomberg News, MSN Money, and the LA Times. http://www.theestatelady.com

She has authored a best-selling book titled “THE BOOMER BURDEN: How to Deal With Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff”, currently available on Amazon.com. With increasing numbers of boomers and older adults across the globe, they are all leaving behind a lot more than their children bargained for. THE BOOMER BURDEN will guide loved ones on how to appropriately handle their parent’s belongings while keeping one’s sanity…and that is priceless.

LDS Gospel Art Book – A Family Home Evening Must Have and Mormon Artwork

Recently the Mormon church has developed a new gospel art book, not necessarily to replace the old gospel art kit but to simplify things. The gospel art kit was hundreds of pictures and photos to represent different doctrines or ideas unique to the Mormon faith. The LDS gospel art book is a slimmed down version of just the essential paintings and images at a very reasonable cost. You can purchase one at your local distribution center or on the church’s website.

This book is a good resource and is loaded with a lot of LDS and Mormon artwork. It is thin and spiral bound, the pages are very durable which allows for younger children to look at the pictures without worrying to much about them damaging the pages. It is also very portable, which makes it easy to bring to church to use for lessons, or just as a quiet activity for your children.

The book includes old testament, new testament, Book of Mormon, church history, and modern day examples of living the gospel. LDS art plays a key role in family home evening because you are able to show examples of difficult concepts to children. The Old Testament is very complex and hard to understand; however, images of stories such as Samuel being called of the Lord or Adam and Eve help children visualize the stories of the gospel more easily.

The church works hard to create items such as these to minimize the cost to members and allows them to have resources they can share with their children to make understanding the gospel an easier experience. The church has also made a DVD set of the Old Testament to help make the stories more simple to not only children but for adults as well.

If you don’t have a gospel art book or the DVD set you can always obtain one through the church. If cost is a concern you can always ask your ward or stake materials specialist to obtain a copy for your meeting house library which will actually benefit the entire ward.

Trent Bowen is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a collector of LDS media. He is the owner of http://www.prophetpaintings.com. He believes that LDS art can bless the lives of others. His website contains wonderful paintings of Christ, missionaries and the modern day prophets.

Adult Acne Home Treatment – Addressing Acne Problems Among Adults

When people think about acne, most think of the teenagers and adolescence. We cannot fault them as many individuals who had this condition during their teenage years got past this acne phase by the time they enter the adulthood state. However, it might be surprising for you upon learning that there are still many who even upon reaching adulthood continue to be afflicted with acne. Yes, it is true that teenagers compose a majority of the acne afflicted population. Still adult acne, while not that prevalent, is a reality.

It is also apparent that like the teenagers, the affected grown ups are not only scarred physically by such health conditions, it is also true that negative social and psychological effects are occurrences that they suffer from. According to popular research and studies, acne is an increasing, if not worsening, problem within the adult populations in recent years.

For those who are bent on addressing the problem, many afflicted individuals consult with dermatologists and skin specialists for adult acne treatment. This is because they know that acne is likely to cause permanent scarring in adults because of mature skin and less amount of collagen. Of course, the social life of a sufferer is affected. They go out less frequently, avoiding close contact with people, even with close friends and family members if only because they fear being ridiculed because of their acne.

Some people resort to adult acne home treatment. This means that they depend on acne cure using the over the counter lotions and creams that are available widely in pharmacies and cosmetic sections of supermarkets and department stores. Even the natural products and ingredients, those found in your home kitchen, are used for treating the acne in grown-ups There is nothing wrong with this option, just make sure that the user would still ask for the advice of a dermatologist regarding the effectiveness of such anti-acne treatment product.

If there is a natural adult acne home treatment that can help in minimizing if not eliminating this health condition all together, it is the use of ordinary chemical-free (organic) soap and water to clean up your face thoroughly. You might be surprised how dirt and dust accumulates in our skin. And simple cleansing of the face everyday can be a great help in solving your acne problem.

Exploiting Seniors In Adult Family Homes – New Cottage Industry

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of our society. A baby boomer reaches 65 every ten seconds. Your whole life can be rewarded or not with great retirement years. It can go either way if you are not careful.

In my case, for example, I lost a pile of money in the dot com mess, got stuck with real estate-the fool safe investment-that was going down in value faster than I could keep up with and then more recently my once strong 401 k dwindled down over the years got socked with the recession.

Then throw in various and sundry big-time medical operations and medical procedures and you have a not very pretty picture.

I use that only as an example. I know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people in the same boat who are ill-equipped to face retirement financially and the prospect of finding a job is a pipe dream.

The stress of dealing with family members who are faced with finding a nursing home or a long-term care facility is daunting enough. The problems associated with those facilities are well documented.

Just three weeks ago the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services division released a study that showed 90 percent of all long-term care facilities have at least one convicted felon. That’s reassuring isn’t it?

The shortage of beds in these facilities and the increasing cost has led to another form of elder care senior housing. It is the most rapidly growing segment of this industry. These facilities are sometimes called assisted living facilities, personal-care homes, adult care homes, shelter care homes and others. They are basically private homes that can house seniors at a reduced rate compared to nursing homes

Texas A&M recently did a study that showed that according to a best estimate there are 50,000 of these nationwide offering 900,000 to 1,000,000 beds.

The study revealed, among other things, that the federal government does not regulate these facilities. It is left up to the state. The major barrier they discovered in all states that they investigated was a lack of resources to carry out their responsibilities-elder abuse was under reported.

They concluded “that unlicensed homes remained a serious, largely unaddressed problem. Let’s face it, there is a low priority given to elder abuse and neglect without the financial resources to investigate detect and resolve elder abuse issues.”

In a recent listing in the Seattle Times in the real estate section there was a listing for a home. The address of the home was a secret. Part of the selling price was the three seniors that lived inside. They provided for a fabulous income stream to a new owner. There’s no liability insurance required. No minimum amount of employees required and very few state regulations.

This leads to all kinds of abusive practices as you can imagine-a new cottage industry.

The best way to protect your loved ones when they are in a situation like this is to get a home hidden camera with a built-in DVR. They allow you to see what is going on when you can’t be there.

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