Ask a Question

How do I keep family from taking things during Mom's move?

My elderly mother has decided to go into assisted living. Today we went to her lawyer's office to pick up the POA, naming me, and we've begun the process of doing an inventory of her house. There have been problems in the family with my brother because he tried to take over mom's property when my dad died. As I have POA, my thought is to send each family member an email asking them to identify any items they might want and to email me the list - this way I can ensure that everyone has a chance to make their wishes known, and we can still keep things that mom might want to take with her or make sure things go to the person she want to have it. I do not want to deal with people walking through the house asking for or taking things while I am trying to get it ready to put on the market.
Status: Open    Jun 10, 2015 - 02:07 AM


Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

2 answers

Expert Answers

Jun 19, 2015 - 12:38 PM

A situation like this is easier if all of the family members are cooperative and their main concern is for your mother. Keep in mind, later on, your mom may need to use the income from the sale of her property. If your mother is still mentally able, she should be part of the decision making. It would be most effective, if you could get everyone together to have a family meeting. Although you are the POA, you will get better cooperation if you provide an opportunity for everyone give their input. Of course, this depends upon everyone’s cooperation. If some of the family members are not able to meet together, it sounds like your idea to asking them to identify what they wish to have, would be good. You also might want to follow up with a written copy of the final decisions to be given to everyone. However, I realize that will depend upon the dynamics within your family. For sure, I recommend that you keep copies of everyone’s input and the final decisions.

This question reminds me of when my mother died and also when I was POA for my cousin.When my cousin needed to downsize, she decided what she wanted to continue using, then we picked out anything that she wanted to be given to a particular person. I then notified family members and close friends that any other items of value, could be purchased. Everything else was sold in patio and estate sales. I kept my cousin informed about everything that was occurring, so she didn’t feel ‘left out’. With my mother’s estate, we paid for any large or valuable items that we wanted. That money went into the estate.

I hope that this might give you some ideas on how to proceed. Every family and situation is different, so you need to make your decisions accordingly. As POA, you may have to make some hard decisions. I think that if you keep in mind what would be in the best interest for your mother, you will probably be able to feel good about your decisions.

Sep 30, 2015 - 12:37 PM

The distribution of possessions often creates problems that arise between family members. And moving can be quite stressful. You can remind your brother that these are your mother’s belongings, not his. Assuming that your mother is able to communicate clearly, first ask your Mom to decide which belongings she wishes to take with her to assisted living. Make a list or set these items aside. Second, help her to pick out specific items that she would like to give to specific family members or to her friends. Take a photo and make a list describing the items and then alert the recipients of her intended gifts to them. Is your Mom able to pay for the shipping costs? If not, you will need to contact the individuals and see if they want the items and that they are willing to pay in advance for shipping. Third, I recommend preparing a detailed inventory of your mother’s remaining belongings and again take a photo of each item to avoid confusion. Send the list (email?) to each family member and give them a date to respond back with their choices. Tell them that they will not have the opportunity to come into the house to choose items, but when the items are chosen, if they live nearby set up a date and time for them to come and pick them up. If more than one person wants the same item , you can flip a coin- or have your Mom choose who gets it. Most likely, you will have items to be donated too. Keep your Mom’s wishes at the top of your to-do list. Though she has decided to move to assisted living, downsizing can be difficult.
Answer this question

Recently Active Members