“I’ll Get to it One Day!”

While the sentiment is a good one, we all know human nature a little too well.  The trouble is, “one day” rarely comes.

  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • I’ll get to that later.
  • I’ll look into that in the new year.
  • It’s not a priority right now.

It’s fascinating what we professionals notice in estates.  We see a distinct similarity in almost all of the estates we go into, especially if the estate belonged to an elderly loved one from the Depression Era.  The attics are usually full; interesting that 85% of them are full of things that really should have been disposed of 30+ years ago.

By the time we get into these attics to clear them out, the books are rotted and have been gnawed on, anything cardboard has pretty much disintegrated, clothing either smells like mildew or falls apart in our hands, or we find items that have long since been obsolete and no one has any use for them.  If items of value were stored in the attic, which is a big no-no, chances are good they have been damaged and the value greatly diminished.  This is not always the case, but generally what we find.  On very rare occasions, we find treasures hidden up there too, but they have been long forgotten and the family most likely was never told about them.

My assistant has a saying when we are working in the daunting attics, up to our elbows in stuff:

“They were young when they put this stuff up here.  By the time they finally figure out it has to be dealt with, they are elderly and can’t get up here anymore.  That’s how long this stuff has been sitting around and most of it is being discarded.  With all this paper up here, it’s a miracle the house didn’t go up like a match.”

This is accurate on many levels.  Time stops for no one.  We all have the best intentions of cleaning out the shed, garage, closets, cupboards.  But if you continue to procrastinate and something happens where you or your loved one is incapacitated, it truly leaves a burden for the ones you leave behind.  A bigger burden than you realize.

If you have had your sights on a project around the house which includes clearing out some stuff, make sure you know what it is worth before you sell it or give it away.  It is better to clear out the clutter now, so you can feel better and not worry later.  We all could probably come up with numerous excuses.  With spring coming, it’s time to just do it!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Julie, Today I had a call from a 94 year old lady who wants an appointment to make arrangements for us to look after her estate when she dies. The Executor, although young, has health issues and she wants to make it as stress free as possible for him.

  2. Hi Julie,

    Trying to help my mom….. my grandfather who passed away 7 years ago left I would say atleast 150,000 dollars in bank accounts. However, since his passing his will stated that my grandmother would stay in possession of all he left and later, 33.33% of his assets would go to his three children (including my mom). Today, 7 years later my mom truly does not know how much money still remains as her brother and sister (sister who works at a bank) have somewhat manipulated the money or better “managed” the only account I have access to (never exceeds $1,300). My grandmother’s health is worsening and cannot care for herself anymore. So my aunt and uncle decided to place her in a nursing home.

    My mom wants to put my grandmother’s property under all three of their names (the siblings) and possibly rent it. However, aunt and uncle don’t want to do this because they want to sell the property and have my grandmother keep on the money, they continue to manipulate those funds to their advantage and later, when my grandmother passes away- give my mom whatever is left over after splitting amount in three.

    My mom is frustrated because she feels she been cheated out of all her father worked for and now the only thing she feels is left is the property and feels and brother and sister will cheat her out of this too.

    I would think that the correct thing to do is put the property under my mom, aunt and uncle- they rent it or do as they please with it OR if the money truly goes only to my grandmother is there any way of putting the money they’d receive from selling the house in an account where withdraws can only be processed if for my grandmother NOT for my aunt and uncle to use for things like GAS MONEY, DINNERS, GROCERY , ETC.

    I’d love and would REALLY appreciate some feedback from you.

    Thank you!

    • Hello, sadly I receive hundreds of emails just like yours each year. I am not a lawyer and only a lawyer can answer these questions. All I can suggest is what I have seen my clients do. I think it all depends on what grandfather’s will stipulated. If he gave it all to grandmother, then all of that money and other assets are hers until the time of her passing and to be used for her care or what she needs. I do not know the laws and each state can be different, but I would say the majority of my clients sell everything to pay for the continued healthcare costs for their loved one. The costs are staggering and often it is needed to sell the home to keep their care going. It is not unusual to sell the possessions and the house too, so the assets are spent down for whatever she may need. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything more, except that’s what most of my clients choose to do. No one gets anything….mom or grandmother gets the care they need for as long as they need it, and if anything is left after they depart, then it is split according to the will. You would have to talk with an attorney about any concerns you may have. They will know all the ins and outs.
      Best, Julie


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