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Questions about selling dad's house

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by looviloo, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    463
    Female
    Cheshire
    #1 looviloo, Sep 20, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2015
    I'm up early, with my head spinning - we're 5 months further on than the crisis that forced dad into a care home, and his house (our family home) is empty but still furnished. It's in need of substantial updating, and full of the clutter that 52 years in the same house brings. Family heirlooms, trinkets, jewellery, papers, old furniture, pictures... the list goes on. Over the months I've been backwards and forwards checking on the place but the time has come to sell and last week I got estate agents in for valuations. If I think on a practical level I might just manage this, but I have so many questions... hopefully someone with a similar experience might be able to help.

    The house has buildings insurance but the contents insurance is limited due to it being unoccupied. Can anyone recommend a short term contents insurer?

    I think I'm going to need some financial advice geared to this kind of situation. But I've no idea where to start! Any ideas? And is it worth doing? I've been thinking about purchasing an annuity to cover the shortfall in dad's care costs.

    Along the same lines, does anyone know how the contents of the house are regarded when it comes to funding dad's care? He's self-funding and I have POA. I also have a copy of mum's Will, which is a mirror of dad's. There's nothing specific in it. Should I get more advice on this?

    Ok, so I'm thinking... we take whatever family pieces we want to keep/pass on, then get an auction house (I know a local one) to value and sell anything fit for auction, and then get a general house clearance for the rest. Does that sound about right? Perhaps getting charity involved along the way (or maybe there's a charity that will do the house clearance?).

    There's so much paperwork, it feels lik a mountain to climb. Unfortunately dad's still asking about the house, but it's clear he can't go home, and perhaps he'll always ask no matter what. I feel sad but resolute at the same time :-/.
     
  2. Vix321

    Vix321 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2015
    21
    Not quite the same situation (my father passed away last year), but similar in that the home is unoccupied.

    There are a lot of companies that do unoccupied property insurance, most of them will cover contents as part of that.

    Some insurance companies will want some contents to remain to make the house looked lived in so this may impact on what you clear at the moment. Also better from a security aspect to have photos of a house with minimum items on estate agent's site than completely empty so house isn't advertised as being unoccupied.

    With regards to his belongings, given that he is self funding, May be worth getting some professional advice. I know when Dad died, I had to get a valuation of the contents for inheritance tax purposes (to calculate overall value of the estate) I don't know if it would be the same for calculating contributions towards care. Maybe someone else here will have been in similar situation and can advise better.

    Best wishes with sorting things, it's a big task, both physically & emotionally.
     
  3. curtainsgalore

    curtainsgalore Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    46
    I have just done this with my Mums home after her going into care in February. I cleared all small invaluable items to charity shops of the charities I know Mum would approve of before dementia.
    Make sure you take all valuable/sentimental items home, jewellery etc. As if the house was burgled these may be stolen.
    I put some nicer furniture and collectables into a local auction house, they were very helpful saying what sort of auction they would be best in and reserves etc.
    For the larger furniture I gave to a local furniture bank they came and collected. Some beds, sofas, chairs etc you can't give away without a fireproof label so these had to go to the dump.
    It took a while to do this and very emotional going through it all but a huge sense of relief when the house was cleared. All the money raised was put in Mums bank account, it didn't see much for a lifetime in a home.
    I contacted Mums insurers when she went into care and the house was unoccupied and the premiums went up and again when it was cleared and they came down again. TSB were Mums insurers and seemed very fair.
    The house sold very quickly when it was clear, I think because the rooms looked bigger with no furniture in them.
    It sold last week, so it took me about 6 months in all to clear and sell. It probably could have been done quicker but with visiting Mum in the home, working full time and having a family of my own it took what it took.
    Daunting task but you can do it I'm sure.
     
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,795
    Female
    South coast
    Curtains galore has given really good advice.

    Im in the middle of clearing mums bungalow - it has had an offer, but not yet exchanged contracts, so Im desperately trying to remove everything. Its so upsetting though - I keep finding stuff at the back of cupboards and have to go and have a little weep :(

    I took all the valuable and sentimental stuff home first and then cleared out all the rubbish (lots of magazines etc). I have asked family and close friends if there is anything that they would like and quite a few things - sofa, bookcase, chest of drawers and lots of vases, glassware etc - have gone that way. Im going through stuff that is left, donating it to charity and will get Emmeus to collect the rest of the furniture (I think that YMCA and the British Heart Foundation will do this too). Her bed will have to go to the tip and I think Im more sad about that than anything somehow.

    Tip for the day: take a bottle of wine for when you are sorting it out.
     
  5. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    2,475
    Radcliffe on Trent
    Not long ago I went through the same process with mum's house and can't add much to the excellent advice already given. We looked at the annuity option and had a lot of helpful advice from a specialist financial adviser which we found via this website.

    http://www.payingforcare.org

    The first meeting was free. It cost £150 to get quotes on the various options and was money well-spent. The capital cost of the annuity was roughly equivalent to the cost of fees for 4 years (mum was 88 at the time). In the end we didn't go ahead as mum's health took a turn for the worse and even the adviser said it wasn't a good idea while her condition was so unstable. Sadly we lost her after a few more months, but we would have gone ahead otherwise just for the peace of mind of knowing she would never run out of money and need to depend on LA funding.

    It's a tough job, but you will get through it, and try to remember what my mum said when my dad died and we had to sort out all his clothes: 'It's just things, and I don't need stuff to remember him.' Wise words, and I have found them to be true. I just kept one or two small things from her house and let the rest go.
     
  6. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    The thing to remember is that personal possessions (aka chattels) do NOT count towards assets when calculating contributions to care. Which is probably just as well as in my experience, unless you collect fine art or something, the cost of disposing of the contents of a house often outweigh any value. So if you can raise any money selling things, fine, put the money raised into your father's account, but don't worry if you want to keep the best pieces/items of sentimental value that may have intrinsic value for yourself. It would be different if your father had, shortly before entering care, converted cash to, say, a diamond necklace though.
     
  7. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,289
    SW London
    Just a thought - when we were clearing my mother's house there was a lot of stuff (mostly odd crockery and rather tatty old kitchen equipment) that didn't seem quite good enough to take to charity shops.

    My SiL thought of putting an ad on the local Freecycle - we had an 'open afternoon' and it was amazing what people came and took away. It certainly beat taking any of it to the tip. Among other things I did keep a very old wooden spoon, though, for sentimental reasons - she had had it for ever and it was completely worn down on one side. Trying to get into OH's head that it MUSt not go in the dishwasher, though... Selective deafness is his forte at times.
     
  8. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    8,089
    Yorkshire
    Oh Witzend - I have my mum's wooden spoon too - so many cakes and gravies mixed with it (not at the same time, mind)
    So I slightly disagree with Pickles53 - I am comforted by using some of the things mum and dad had in our family homes - the weight and texture and usedness of them gives me a physical link - I garden in some of their old clothes .....
    so keep anything that tugs at you - you can change your mind later
    I'm not attached to things for their own sake but some are 3d photos
    I do think some of us want and need more than our head memories.

    Will be selling dad's house soon so this thread is really useful :)
     
  9. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    396
    Forced sale = dismal service from estate agent

    Just a word of warning about setting out your stall with estate agent. Our sale went on for almost a year because the useless estate agent took property off the market once they had received (very quickly) an offer. In fact they even put a sold sign up way before contracts were exchanged. We then had a buyer who dallied and dallied and forced the price down. It was not a good scenario. If you are not in the immediate area do give them definite instructions about them passing on all offers.
     
  10. Ballykeith

    Ballykeith Registered User

    Aug 26, 2013
    24
    Peterborough
    Obligation to rent?

    Hope this slight digression is permitted on this thread. As I hold PoA for my mum who will be self-funding when she comes to move into a CH, I wondered whether there is any obligation to rent out her property for as long as possible prior to selling it when the finances dictate. Renting out her property would only bring in a fraction of the weekly fees but it would be something, and would stretch out her money a bit longer. To be honest, I'd rather not have this additional responsibility which might stretch for years ahead, but if there is a duty to maximise my mother's finances then I really ought to.
     
  11. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,045
    Staffs
    No obligation whatsoever. It can be a right nightmare renting.

    Just do what you think is right.
    :)
     
  12. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,289
    SW London
    Just to add, do check anything that might possibly be of value before getting house clearance people in. While clearing our aunt's house after she went into a CH my sister found an old watercolour painting wrapped up in brown paper amongst all the junk, and there was a lot of junk. We recognised it from our granny's house way back - she had never had much money at all but did enjoy going to sales.

    Anyway, after seeing the clearance people giving it slightly more than a cursory look, my eagle eyed sister - just as well she was watching - had it valued. It turned out to be by quite a well known Victorian artist and fetched over £9k at auction. All added to the care home fees pot...
     
  13. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    463
    Female
    Cheshire
    #13 looviloo, Sep 20, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2015
    Wow, thanks for all of your replies! I don't have time to write a detailed message right now, but there's so much excellent advice for me to consider and I'm very, very grateful. It looks as though this thread might be useful to other forum members too. I'll be back soon, when I have more time and have considered all the information :).
     
  14. nicoise

    nicoise Registered User

    Jun 29, 2010
    1,806
    And then when you finally get the house sold and cleared, and then unpack those boxes of sentimental items and find a home for them back in your own house, be prepared for a bit of a physical and mental crash....

    It takes so much of your own personal resources to handle all this on top of whatever the background story is, be it moving to a care home or bereavement.

    I found I finally succumbed for the first time in my life to real flu, which has taken months to get over.... No real surprise given the toll the years have taken, but it seemed to be the final straw.

    Having said that, I'm now getting over all that, and feel much lighter in my head now that the stresses of that are in the past.

    A tip I was given is that although you will have to part with things you'd love to keep, sometimes looking at them makes you sad all over again, and daily reminders can keep you in the bad place rather than being a good thing - so don't agonise too much over the lost items. It sounds as though wooden spoons are a common keepsake in several households! ;)

    (Ps. The upside was that I was so unwell I couldn't smoke, (it was that or oxygen!) and have finally kicked the habit after more years than I like to admit! One day at a time... :) )
     
  15. Bessieb

    Bessieb Registered User

    Jun 2, 2014
    108
    I've just driven 2 hours each way to spend a morning starting to clear my parents house. Oh my goodness what a task. Thank goodness they weren't hoarders but still plenty of stuff to deal with.

    I had a tip to take photographs of anything that potentially might be valuable - pictures, ornaments etc - and email then to an auction house for an initial view. I've taken the photos this morning and see what happens. At least I won't be dragging anything round that isn't worth anything and might add something to the pot!

    Useful info on Contents Insurance - thanks all - hadn't even thought of that!!!

    Definitely need the wine!
     
  16. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    463
    Female
    Cheshire
    Afternoon everyone :). Thanks for your replies, which have helped a lot and given me some food for thought.

    Regarding my house insurance question, I've rung two non-standard insurers so far and neither do short term insurance. Both cover for the very basic things (fire / lightning / aircraft! / liability to public) and an application can be made to the underwriter for a more comprehensive cover (it's called "extending perils"). The extended cover is more expensive of course (£500-£600 per year) and no refund is given if cancelled within the year. Ouch!

    As for finances, your link looks great Pickles53, and I'm going to message them and see what advice I can get. I'm still feeling quite overwhelmed by the whole house-clearing situation, although we went over at the weekend and brought back any small valuables we could find. But the cupboard are FULL so I really need to go through everything. In the end, I don't want to clutter our own house up so will have to find a balance when choosing items to keep for sentimental reasons... mostly photos in our case, I think. And perhaps a wooden spoon or two. Seriously! Mum had a Welsh love spoon that I always liked :)

    I've looked again at mum's Will - there's a lot of legal speak but it boils down to everything being left to the surviving partner, and subsequently to any surviving children. I said to my husband that I want to do things differently and leave specific items to our daughter in the event that either of us should die. For instance, she shouldn't have to wait 20 years to inherit my jewellery, if I go first! It has irked me a bit that on clearing some of the cupboards I've come across jewellery items that were given to me as a child, but stored away by my parents when I left home. I then forgot about them. Is it wrong of me to feel that way? I can see that clearing the house is going to an emotional rollercoaster for all kinds of reasons :-/.

    Thanks again :)
     
  17. curtainsgalore

    curtainsgalore Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    46
    Have you spoken to her existing insurers ? They may be more helpful than trying to start with a new company. Just a thought.
    When things were tough going for me when clearing I said to myself I only have to do this once.
    You'll get there in the end.
     
  18. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    8,089
    Yorkshire
    Only picking up on a 'small' point you made.
    So your parents were only storing these for you - the jewellery is yours and you may take it.
    Or have I misunderstood?
     
  19. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    2,475
    Radcliffe on Trent
    That's what I did with the insurance. There were some extra conditions, like we had to arrange for someone to visit at least once a week to check the house, and keep the heating on at a low level between October and March. Also the excess was increased. The premium stayed the same. Fortunately the insurance had just been renewed for the year; I was told they may not renew for a further year but would assist us in finding a suitable alternative provider if that was the case. We were able to sell the house before the renewal was due so didn't have to test this out in practice.

    In our case we have cleared three houses in two years, as we are the only 'younger' generation in a small and very scattered family. We're hoping we don't have to do it again for a very long time.
     
  20. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    463
    Female
    Cheshire
    #20 looviloo, Sep 25, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
    Just updating to say thanks again for your helpful replies, and to let you know how things are, in case it's useful to someone else.

    I rang various insurance providers, including dad's current one and my own, who would not provide 'extended insurance' for dad's unoccupied house (by extended, they mean including theft and vandalism, and 'escape of water' - the kinds of cover you normally expect from house & contents insurance).

    Insurance that included theft etc could only be provided by non-standard insurance agencies, and the quotes varied wildly! The highest quote was nearly £700 for a 6-month period, and the one I took was £440 for a 12 month period! Strangely, they were both underwritten by the same insurers... so how does that work???! Anyway, the moral of the tale is to spend some time ringing round to find the best deal.

    As for financial advice, Age UK suggested I speak to the office of the public guardian for pointers in the right direction. They thought it would be worth asking the OPG who should pay for the advice (if we go that route), and not assume it should come from my dad's money. If we had to pay for advice about my dad's accounts then I'm afraid we wouldn't seek advice... we can't afford it... and would seem very unfair to me :-/. There are some free advice services out there, including Pickles link, so I'll try those first.

    Clearing the contents --- I'm less stressed about this now, thanks to your lovely support :). It's all very emotional and that clouded my thoughts for a while. Also, I've spoken to a care worker who said that it's ok to dispose of any item as we see fit, as long as it isn't worth more than about £500. Anything worth more than that is considered 'valuable' and should either have proof that it belongs to me or my sister, or sold on dad's behalf to raise funds. Not selling the house at market value, not selling valuable items, or taking valuable items without explicit permission can be considered deprivation of assets. Anyway, I feel better knowing this because I like to work with numbers and doubt very much that any single item in the house, whoever it belongs to, is worth more than the £500 cap. The care worker also said it was highly unlikely that it would ever be chased up anyway, but it's still worth making some record of what's in the house (I've taken photos).

    I hope that helps anyone else going through this. We've decided to delay the sale of the house and take some time clearing it; it was starting to feel totally overwhelming!
     

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