What can you do to make moving out of the family home easier

Helping Your Parents Move Out of the Family Homestead

by Gary Foreman


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Your parents have decided to sell the family home. They recognize that the home is bigger than they need, requires more upkeep than they can do, and is preventing them from moving to a more appropriate home. You knew that this day was coming, but now that it's here you're not sure how to proceed.

To provide some suggestions on how to help your parents move out of the family homestead, we contacted Jennifer Pickett and Mary Kay Buysse of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM.org). They were good enough to answer the following questions.

Q. Is there anything that can make parting with long time possessions any easier? Any ways to take memories along to a new home?

Jennifer and Mary Kay: Record stories about the items through short videos on Instagram, Vine, etc. via your smartphone camera. Also, Take photos (& lots of them!) to use in scrapbooks or to create a framed photo collage featuring the items.

Q. Should adult children encourage parents to distribute possessions while they're still alive?

Jennifer and Mary Kay: It's a tricky topic because studies indicate today's adult children and grandchildren do not necessarily want to inherit an older adult relative's possessions. But they also do not want to cause hurt feelings within the family. So, there's a dilemma.

Due to advances in life expectancy, adult children (and grandchildren) already have established their own homes without need of their parent's (or grandparent's) dining room set, china, etc.

That being said, it's important to at least hold a conversation about the possessions while parents are alive and involved. It's a more transparent process for the entire family, especially among the surviving adult children.

Certainly, if older adults want to part with their possessions, Senior Move Managers® can assist them with identifying charitable organizations that will accept the items. In the long run, this helps the children and grandchildren out, once their parents/grandparents die.

Q. What's the best way to raise cash from possessions that won't be moved to the new home?

Jennifer and Mary Kay: This idea that older adults in their own homes are sitting on a big pile of cash is a myth.

The antique markets (and similar secondary markets) are absolutely flooded with furniture, etc. Surf on eBay for just a few minutes to see the thousands of items moved from a home of 30, 40, or 50 years. It's staggering!

Then there's the Target, Walmart, Ikea phenomenon where new things can be bought and replaced very inexpensively and effortlessly (Amazon Prime). So the need or interest to take on a past generation's possessions is simply not there.


Additionally, most people (of the Greatest and/or Silent generations) believe their things are worth more than they are.

Most estate sale companies will require a minimum for the sale, before even taking on the project. These minimums can be in the $10K range, and are often difficult for many families to meet.

Online auctions are becoming very popular and can generate some money. We observe this trend as an effective way of liquidating the contents of a home that will not be moved or donated.

Q. Often the temptation is to take too much to the new home. Is there a way to avoid overcrowding?

Jennifer and Mary Kay: Space planning is very important prior to making the move. Senior Move Managers® will develop floor plans so the client understands what will fit in the new residence.

Once a floor plan is agreed upon, the process of identifying what will not fit in the new residence crystalizes for the older adult and family.

Q. Are there any technology tools that make the transition from the family home easier?

Jennifer and Mary Kay: Great home inventory software programs were developed to catalogue the interior of a home. Additionally, programs exist that allow older adults to chronicle their lives, which is a wonderful way to preserve their memories and a nice keepsake for adult children and grandchildren.

Some Senior Move Managers® specialize in photo organizing, using the latest technologies to store and share photos, videos, etc.

Will you leave
thousands of dollars on the table
by taking Social Security
at the wrong time? Find out.

Helping your parents move out of the family homestead can be challenging in a variety of ways. But taking steps to preserve memories and handle the distribution of the home contents can make the transition much smoother for everyone.


Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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