Thanks to modern medicine and higher standards of living, we’re living longer and dealing with situations that did not affect previous generations to the same extent. Pensions stretched further, and the possibility of having to downsize living arrangements is a decision faced by a growing number of our family and friends. The process of managing the property and assets of a loved one can be a stressful time, whether you are helping someone move into care, or they have passed away. To give you a starting point, we have put together a list of things to think about before getting started.
You’re not just moving house
Before clearing the property of someone moving into care, you need to go through the process of finding a care home, which can be time-consuming and emotional. The level of assistance you or your loved one requires can affect the options available. Did you know that there is a range of assisted living and care home types to suit individual requirements? From standard homes that provide support with personal care and facilitate social opportunities, to more specialist nursing and/or dementia care homes with round-the-clock assistance, you’ll find a good option. There are even facilities that combine these two approaches, providing situations that can cater to you or your relation’s evolving care needs, and allow couples to live together for longer.
Considerations when moving someone into care
Do you/they have the capacity?
For the person requiring care, their mental capacity may affect how far they can participate in the decision-making process and the type of social care that will be suitable. Seek advice from the GP if you have questions regarding mental capacity; it may be necessary to establish Powers of Attorney for certain aspects of your/their life and will require the involvement of a solicitor and your GP.
Do your research
Look at Care Quality Commission reports, get word of mouth suggestions from friends and family, and check out Age UK and their comprehensive guide to social care. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and make multiple visits to potential homes.
Will you or your relation be self-funding? Agreeing to a council loan? Explore the options as soon as you can, as they may require legal input and the establishment of financial Power of Attorney, depending on the mental capacity of the individual in question.
The person left behind
This transition can produce complicated feelings for family and friends, like guilt, worry and frustration. This is entirely normal, and the staff at the home will be happy to chat. Try to remember that everything you have done has been in your loved one’s best interests. Check out Mind’s resource and visit your GP if you’re finding these feelings overwhelming.
Some care homes welcome pets, and owners gain a tremendous benefit from continued contact with them. If that isn’t possible, organisations such as The Cinnamon Trust and The Blue Cross can provide advice and assistance. Be mindful that being separated can be difficult for both the owner and animal, and try to support them through it.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to moving into care. However, if you do your research, ask lots of questions and seek support there is no reason why you shouldn’t find a care home everyone is happy with.
Managing the assets of someone who's passed away
If you find yourself managing the property of a recently deceased friend or relation, rather than researching care homes, you will see yourself working with solicitors and making decisions on behalf of the deceased’s estate. If a will has been left, they will have informed the relevant people who the executors are and where to find the original documents.
- Depending on the value of the property and assets, it may have to go through probate to be legally transferred to the named beneficiaries.
- Probate may not be necessary if the assets do not include property.
- The executor of the will has to apply for probate if so required.
- The property may be cleared during probate – however, you will need to consult with the solicitor to confirm this.
- Offer family the opportunity to help, if appropriate – it can be an essential part of the grieving process, and a chance to keep significant items in the family.
It’s easy to get caught up in the little details – don’t forget to check in with yourself now and again, and talk to someone if you are struggling with the process.
When it comes to the house clearance
Once you have gotten appropriate advice and are ready to proceed, it’s time to consider the clearance options. For an in-depth look at the different ways you can dispose of rubbish and unwanted items, check out our past article on how to minimise rubbish disposal costs. Generally speaking, the options are DIY at the local recycling centre, donate clothing, furniture and appliances to charities, sell things online or at the car boot, and/or engage the services of a skip hire company or professional rubbish removal service. Depending on the nature of the items you want to get rid of, local auction houses may be interested in coming in and helping you sell any items of interest.
Involve the family, where possible
It’s important for the individual going into care to have as much input as possible. Make sure you or your loved one is settled with familiar items like furniture, soft furnishings, photographs or electronics. Talk to the care home about what can or cannot be brought in, as they may have insurance and health and safety considerations.
Follow the legal advice
If the property you’re responsible for is subject to legal conditions, make sure you communicate clearly with the solicitor regarding the process, when you can start, and if there are any deadlines. It is unlikely anything will go wrong, but it doesn’t hurt to tick all the boxes and get through the process as efficiently as possible.
Track down important papers like deeds, insurance/pension/banking documents, birth certificates, etc., as they may be tucked away in ‘safe’ places and will be needed in future. You don’t want to find out too late that it was in the desk you sold on Gumtree last week.
Deciding upon a method
A DIY approach will guarantee you know exactly where it’s going – but be mindful, it can be quite time consuming, especially when there’s a day job to do and family/friends to support. Do a preliminary sweep while you’re looking for those documents mentioned above, and separate items to be kept from ones to be disposed of. This way the property will be prepared for any charity collections or auction house visits you may have arranged, saving everyone time. Auction houses can come in and value items, selling on your behalf for a commission, and house clearance or waste disposal companies provide excellent value for money when it comes to clearing a property quickly and responsibly.
While helping someone move into care, or dealing with their estate, can be a stressful and emotional time, the process can go smoother and present fewer difficulties if you take some of these points into consideration. It can be a challenging transition for everyone involved, so try to look after each other and don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek assistance.
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