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As I've posted here, my 94 year old dad is currently in skilled nursing but will be moving soon to memory care. He still owns a house and 2 cars and I, as guardian and conservator, am responsible for keeping the house maintained, paying utilities, property taxes, yard maintenance and insurance. He has not lived there for 1-1/2 years. There are rats living in the back shed (I think my husband is on a mission to get rid of them. He has baited 3 times and they keep coming back). I was there this weekend and the back fence between his house and 2 neighbors has blown down so that's another thing to deal with. I have to have approval from the court to sell the house and he will receive a copy of the paperwork. The guardianship attorney has urged me to do this as the house is becoming a money pit. How do I tell him? He is going to come unhinged and he will insist on seeing it again but it is not wheelchair accessible. I'm not really sure how to approach this.

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He will receive a court notice with a date and time of the hearing. Is he cognitive of time and date? Will he physically be able to attend the hearing on his own to contest? Does he have the ability to hire a lawyer to speak on his behalf? If the answer is no then you should be fine. It is not your responsibility to tell him about it. Let the letter arrive and do not mention it unless he says something to you. But do think of a simple response if he does ask.
My mom receives periodic court papers on a regular basis. When I visited her, I would find the opened letter in her room and I would discretely toss it out. She saw it then forgot about it is telling me that she cannot figure what to do.
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Reply to MACinCT
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If he is in Memory Care, there is no reason to tell him.

He's not in charge of his finances, if you are the guardian. Plus, if he is in Memory Care, he is not competent to take care of such things. There is a good chance he will forget what you told him, and still believe that he owns a home. Why upset that thought?

Have you changed his address for the post office? Perhaps change it to your home so that he doesn't need to receive court papers and become agitated. You can then deliver only "pleasant" mail.

The house must be sold to pay for his care. Simple as that.
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Babs75 Feb 24, 2021
His mail has been coming to my house for 1-1/2 years.
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Does the insurance company know that the house is unoccupied? Being unoccupied presents a greater risk of theft, fire, wind damage, even flooding if the water isn't turned off. Some companies will not insure an unoccupied home, or if they do would require an endorsement or separate policy or even cancel the policy.

There's no need to tell him. Begin the proceedings to sell. If the property is not sold and it burns down, you've lost the entire value of the home because the insurance won't pay once they find that it's been unoccupied.
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Babs75 Feb 24, 2021
I contacted his insurance agent and my own insurance agent with this question. They both told me the same thing. In my state being unoccupied is fine as long as his stuff is all still there, which it is. They also said to check on it frequently which I do. It comes under the same heading as a vacation property where your stuff is there but you're not for most of the time. They said if we leave it totally empty for any length of time then there is a problem because they said that empty houses invite problems. There is a light on a timer and I am there fairly frequently.
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Take lots of pictures, so he has those. Beyond that, I wouldn't tell him.
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Reply to MJ1929
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I went through this with my parents. As soon as they moved into assisted living I went to work getting the house ready to sell. It was a mess. I cleaned out personal belongings and hired a guy to haul several truckloads to the dump then sold it as is.

I had a perfunctory hearing with the guardianship judge and got permission.

I had already gone through guardianship Conservatorship process, mom and dad had been served legal paperwork during that process but didn’t understand or even ask me. They also got paperwork on the house sale but never brought it up with me. Dad had very little short term memory at this point but mom still functioned fairly well.

If they had confronted me I would have fibbed a bit (Or maybe a lot) as I had to do a lot of fibbing the last few years to take care of them.

I think we sometimes become a slave to our parents dementia, putting of what has to be done because we don’t want the hissy fits. But this is a case of doing what has to be done.
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I'm of the mindset that it's best to be honest or your Dad may keep on asking you about the house. I sold my Mom's house while she was still living there (she couldn't afford to pay the taxes anymore and she understood that). She was in the early stages of dementia then.

I let her know that I was moving her to Vermont to live with me and that I would take good care of her and that comforted her.

My Mom stopped herself from driving because she kept getting scared of getting lost. So deep down she knew something was wrong and that she needed help.

When her house was sold (I had already moved her to Vermont) I drove to her state to sign the papers at the closing (I have POA) and that was over 5 years ago.

I would take photographs (the type from a real camera) of the house and all the rooms inside as well as outside and make put them on a large cardboard so he can see his house. Staples will take the photographs and design them for you.

Good luck!
Jenna
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cxmoody Feb 23, 2021
If OP's Dad is in Memory Care, there is a good chance that he will not remember this conversation.
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He's in a wheelchair and his own attorney left him some months back (which was a bit of a surprise to my attorney. She thought he would stick around until after the house was sold.) No, he can't do any of these things any more. In fact I found it surprising a couple months ago when he asked me if he still owns a house. I told him yes and then the 'I want to go home, I want to go home!' started in again which he can't do. His house is not safe, it is old, it is dark, and not wheelchair accessible. The housing market is hot in my town and it will go for top dollar even with the issues because we are low on supply. His house is funky and the realtor has told us it will go to someone who 'likes that kind of house'. It is on 1/3 acre which is rare here in town.
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I have read this before where a guardian has to get permission to do certain things. I understand the logic in it, the state is protecting Dad, but just seems your hands are tied.

I had my Mom assign me POA thru a lawyer. I wanted all the Ts crossed and Is dotted. Mom gave me the ability to sell her house. So, I put it up for sale. I never told her I did it. I never took her back to it once she moved out and I definitely didn't show her pictures. It just gives them the impression they could go back. And their minds no longer can reason that they r where they are because its safer.

Most people who suffer from Dementia want to go home. My Aunt would tell a friend she would be home as soon as they let her out of this place. But the "home" she was talking about was where she grew up. You just have to make up little white lies. Its a shame the courts feel they need to keep a person suffering from Dementia informed. I mean, you received guardianship because Dad had a Dementia. Dad may get the letter and have no idea what it means. If he does, just be honest and say that he could no longer afford to keep it up. Yes, he may get upset but then he hopefully will forget. I would make sure I took the letter, once he read it, and not mention the house again. Eventually as the desease progresses, he will forget he had a home and except where he is.
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Isabelsdaughter Feb 26, 2021
Totally agree
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When my father entered assisted living I sold his house. He didn't want to do it because he kept saying he was only trying out the assisted living situation and would come back home if he didn't like it. I wanted to assure that wasn't an option, plus one of the reasons for assisted living was that the house needed repairs and upkeep that I didn't want to take on. It wasn't easy but I just didn't dwell on the house sale. We discussed that it had to be sold, he got angry, I ignored him, we sold it. Now, he will ask me if the house has been sold, or he'll say "You sold the house, didn't you?" but it's not really an accusation anymore. Don't try to get him to understand or even agree since it's something that just has to be done. Be matter-of-fact in your presentation and discussion and don't allow any doubt to creep in. He won't like it but he'll eventually get over it. I wouldn't tell him any more than absolutely necessary. Unless he needs to sign paperwork, which since you are the guardian/conservator I doubt will be necessary, you can just let it come up in conversation and then move on from the topic.
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Reply to jkm999
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Before the talk, you should take your Dad to see his house. It doesn't take much to have a makeshift ramp or get a wheelchair over a step or door jamb.

After he sees the house, rats and all he would be more inclined to understand that it needs TLC that you and your husband can not give.

Tell your Dad that ya'll were told the house needed to be sold and the money put in his account to help pay for his Care Facility.

But fir his sake, let him reminise in his home and chose a few items to take with him to Memory Care.

Prayers
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Does he need the money for his present situation? If so, you need a lawyer to draw up a real POA. If he is moving to memory care, I assume you can (and should) have him declared incompetent, and you named as overall POA. This will not work for some things, such as Social Security and various government entities, but will allow you to sell the house. I'd suggest then setting up (if you haven't already) banking and investment accounts (best to use a broker for the second thing), in which you are not a co-owner, but are able to sign for him. The bank and/or broker will understand how to do this. Otherwise, your finances are tied to his, and you can become part of his responsibilities.

If he doesn't need the money, and you don't want the hassle, hire people to keep the house safe, lawn mowed, electricity on but not running, etc. There's enough stuff you have to do without this.
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jacobsonbob Feb 26, 2021
If there is no chance that he will be able to move back, and no one else in the family wishes to live in it, then it still may be a good idea to sell the house, particularly if there are other investments such as stocks--the house costs money to keep up while the other investments generate money. This is what my sister and I did with our parents' house, and the proceeds from the house paid for a year of nursing home care, and dividends, etc. helped pay after that. Our parents wanted my sister and me to have an inheritance, and after spending several years in the nursing home this is what happened (so I'll be able to pay for care if I get to that point!). It makes sense to prioritize and think "long term" when dealing with assets, especially if it's obvious they could last a long time paying for care because one never knows how long parents will live or what needs they will have. There was no sense in paying taxes and heating an empty house for a half-dozen years (especially, in our case, when a neighbor was interested in buying it).
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A virtual tour using a smart phone could allow him to view the property.
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He will receive a copy of the paperwork. When he does, and he asks you questions about it, you answer his questions truthfully.

You are dreading this because you anticipate - and I can't put it better myself! - that he is going to come unhinged. He may, briefly. And that will make no difference either to the fact that the house must be sold and you have the legal authority to do it, or to the reality that the process will by then be under way.

It isn't quite the same situation, but I have just come from a family who dread similar things. They thought they couldn't get Dad vaccinated because they'd never get him to his GP. The wife had cancelled two CT scans because she couldn't get him to agree beforehand to the appointments and didn't know how she'd get him there if he refused to get in the car. This morning, she is fearful that her long, long overdue respite break won't happen because she can't explain it to him. Well - he has been vaccinated, he did attend the CT scan, and I am hopeful that by getting her to focus on the next goal - booking and implementing the respite plan - we can stop her from sabotaging this too.

Here is a useful mantra: "nothing is EVER as bad as you think it's going to be." What's key here is that you don't need your father's co-operation to sell the house, and you mustn't let your fear of his being upset about it stop you doing what you need to do in his best interests. Don't anticipate problems that won't make a material difference to anything. Eyes on the prize.
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jacobsonbob Feb 26, 2021
"nothing is EVER as bad as you think it's going to be." That's quite true. However, what often happens is that something entirely unexpected pops up that turns out to be worse than the thing one was dreading!! (But at least in the latter case, one is less likely to waste time worrying about it--or perhaps not even have the opportunity to do so--before it actually happens!)
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My experience was a bit different, as it was my daughter, Mom's granddaughter, who was buying her home. We had already gone through the years of "I want to go home" so I just explained the situation and Mom was on board. I had already moved most of what she loved into her MC room. I never took her back to see the home. It was a mobile home and we had it moved. Perhaps, if there's a younger family member that he cares a lot for, you told him that you were selling it to them, it would be a bit easier? Just tossing out the idea. Best wishes to you.
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He will receive a copy of the paperwork. When he does, and he asks you questions about it, you answer his questions truthfully.

You are dreading this because you anticipate - and I can't put it better myself! - that he is going to come unhinged. He may, briefly. And that will make no difference either to the fact that the house must be sold and you have the legal authority to do it, or to the reality that the process will by then be under way.

It isn't quite the same situation, but I have just come from a family who dread similar things. They thought they couldn't get Dad vaccinated because they'd never get him to his GP. The wife had cancelled two CT scans because she couldn't get him to agree beforehand to the appointments and didn't know how she'd get him there if he refused to get in the car. This morning, she is fearful that her long, long overdue respite break won't happen because she can't explain it to him. Well - he has been vaccinated, he did attend the CT scan, and I am hopeful that by getting her to focus on the next goal - booking and implementing the respite plan - we can stop her from sabotaging this too.

Here is a useful mantra: "nothing is EVER as bad as you think it's going to be." What's key here is that you don't need your father's co-operation to sell the house, and you mustn't let your fear of his being upset about it stop you doing what you need to do in his best interests. Don't anticipate problems that won't make a material difference to anything. Eyes on the prize.
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I never told my Mother anything that I thought would upset her. She forgot things soon enough anyway. It is your decision to make.
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If he is moving to memory care, I suspect he is pretty far along with dementia and not mentally sound enough to be discussing financial decisions with you.  Nor does he need the stress of all of that.  I would sell the house and cars so that he has plenty of funds to support his care and there will be one less thing for you to manage.  Those assets are of no value to anyone while sitting there deteriorating and becoming over run with rats.  Should your father have a lucid moment and ask about his home, just reassure him that you are taking care of it for him and then change the subject.
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Tough situation to be in, but I think if it's the prudent thing to do, just sell and unfortunately you don't need to explain or take him for visit, sounds cold but honestly he won't remember and telling him and taking him to view once more will only bring back the memories of yesteryear and bring a flood of emotion and wrath possibly on you.
Best wishes in this tough time. I've read others state albeit lying is never morally right, sometimes with holding all the details is a sparing act of compassion.
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I recently sold my mom's house about 6 months ago. After knowing she wasn't moving back, I started that process right away on selling the home just for the fact it was another huge responsibility. My mom understood she couldn't live alone there anymore and an empty house creates alot of problems that we discussed together. Vandalism, deteriorating , etc. ....... She ask me everyday about the house over and over again. Does she still have it? Is it sold? How much did it sell for? Who has the money? The questions drive me crazy, but that huge extra burden is not there.
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Many good answers here . I also recommend speaking to your attorney (elder ) and get tax advice from his CPA. There are real estate agents that specialize in senior transactions. Both buying snd selling . My experience has been they typically are compassionate and knowledgeable about these type sales. Having a good SRES can help in some tough situations.
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Reply to Joyelanahan
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I have POA for my mom and after she went to memory care I sold her house and her car. I’ve never told her about this and she has never asked. She now has more funds to pay for her care and I do not have the burden of keeping up either of them. If he even understands the paperwork when he receives it, he’ll likely forget about it quickly.
If he insists on seeing it, I would just as directly insist that he cannot see it.
I retained the attorney who set up my mom’s POA for the home sale (I did the car sale on my own) and highly recommend that anyone going through the same process do the same.
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Hello. I had to sell moms home and rent another. Mom is a hoarder. One house was empty for four years due to much needed repairs. Mom’s in a Memory Care facility with Vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s .
She is always asking about her houses, how many she owns, and get the house ready for her to live in. Not ever happening.
i’m POA and Trustee. I cleared out one house, cleaned it and sold it. Money put into her trust account. The other house took 7 months to clear, repair, replace, paint and so much more! It’s now being rented and monies goes into her trust account.
When she asks, I say she has one house and being rented. She doesn't remember, so she asks repeatedly. One thing to remember, you can only use the Capitol Gain Exemption on the house he lived in the last two of the five years owned. So it is a financial consideration.
Hope this helps.
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Babs75 Feb 26, 2021
Yes, and thanks for reminding me about the capitol gains rule. He lived there until September of 2019.
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You could also throw the attorney under the bus to deflect some of the anger. AND I wouldn't tell him until after it's a done deal. In the meantime put anything thing he might think is a treasure--family pictures, etc. in a safe place--and then proceed with the sale. Maybe you could make him a picture album of the house--with some pictures of happy times in the house over the years, maybe pictures when it was brand new, and now that it is older. When you tell him have the book ready and say "Dad, I have some news I need to tell you. The guardianship attorney strongly recommended that we go ahead and sell the house and cars. Since you haven't used them in a couple of years they were really starting to deteriorate. The house already had a lot of big maintance and repair issues before you moved out and they were only getting worse. He was concerned it might invite rats and other pests and then it would be totally worthless. We didn't want to see all your investment, hard work and care go to waste. So we decided to go ahead and sell it so another family could enjoy the the house and create memories there for the house to live on and bless others. Look here, I made you a picture book so that you will always have that to look at and remember all the great times we had there as a family. Shall we look together and you can tell me about it." That gives a positive spin on selling it, and gives him something concrete to look at
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Boy, your situation brings back memories. I knew it was time to sell my mom’s home. She had been independent for years and she did not like my recommendations to help as she was declining. She would get agitated and defensive. It was emotionally draining! I dreaded the conversation. What I did, was pray! I ask God to prepare me to know when mom was ready to hear and understand my concerns for her safety. And honestly, God worked it ALL out. Trust Him, rely on Him and He will direct your path. Seriously, pray!
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Reply to PattiDK4
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Some good resolutions to your problem on this site. Bring your Elder Care attorney into the situation. be up front with your Dad. Sice he appears not to be able to drive you could just start off with selling the cars. Then go to the house. Any household memorabilia could go into a small storage site. I lked the other idea of a photo album of cherished items. Tough decision but get it over with. Prayer always helps.
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Babs75 Feb 26, 2021
Yes, we've already decided to get a mini storage for some of the personal stuff that we haven't decided what to do with yet. We did that with my mom (my parents are divorced) before she passed away and it made for a LOT LESS to go through after the fact.
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You are his guardian and conservator. You wrote that "he will receive a copy of the paperwork" and you also wrote that his mail comes to your house. How would he see the paperwork unless you showed it to him? As his guardian and conservator, you can sign the court papers and sale documents. I see no need to tell him anything. What good is going to come from telling him?
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Babs75 Feb 26, 2021
The attorney is required to send a copy of the letter to where he lives now which is skilled nursing.
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People don't really think about this, but a house is a 'living, breathing entity' and if it's not occupied and cared for, begins to immediately go downhill. The yard becomes choked with weeds, a small water leak left unattended can cause thousands upon thousands of dollars to fix. Windows get broken, stuff goes 'missing'. Mice and rats get in.

Cars are the same way. We just barely talked MIL into selling her 1997 Taurus. It literally had only been driven to church, the beauty parlor and to the grocery store. Had a total of >60K miles on it.

MIL thought she would ask about $6K for it. She ended up GETTING $1K and was lucky to have that. Even not being driven and housed in a garage, the tires were rotted, some rust had ruined the heater box--we spent $1000 fixing it up to sell it for $1000. At least it's out of her mind and garage. If a lot more time had passed we would have sold it for scrap.

My mom talks about going back 'home' but she doesn't mean the big house that daddy built: she means the tiny postwar 1600 sf house that they brought 4 babies home to. No way can we take her back there -- she'd be so depressed.

Moving mom and dad from the 'big house' took us 3 years. It was horrible. They had made no plans for retirement, and so it was a mess.

I just hope I don't do this to my kids.
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Babs75 Feb 26, 2021
Lol.. my dad has 2 cars. One of them is a 1998 pickup truck with less than 60,000 miles. Hasn't been driven for a few years and has a flat tire but always garaged. It would need a full going through plus tires and brakes. I'm not sure it would be worth it for what I could get for it. We may end up donating the vehicles. His are older cars and they are easier to work on than the new stuff so someone might want to get them both running properly.
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We are in the process of selling my FIL’s house and car and he hasn’t asked about it so we don’t mention it. I don’t know if that is wrong or not. But it has to happen no matter what, and no need to stress him. His neurologist told us 4 years ago he must stop driving. He badly failed the “driving” assessment at her office.

Everything nostalgic to him is here, not that he is interested in any of it. He is when we bring it up, but will forget by the next day.

Anytime, his older home comes up, he is thinking his home he lived in ten years ago so...

I will say it is much easier to do all this now than after they pass. Having lost two parents and an in law, the stress of dealing with assets on top of grieving is very hard.
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Sell the house, do not involve Dad if at all possible. Do not attempt to bring him to it one more time.

Please do not use rat poison, where I live eagles and owls are being poisoned by eating dying and dead rats that were poisoned. If possible find a company that uses terriers to kill rats. They are remarkable effective.

But unless the shed is completely sealed up, rats will continue to get in. We have a family story. My Dad was living on the other side of the country, there was a mouse in my grandfather's shed. Grandpa wrote a letter telling Dad he had killed the mouse, the following week another letter arrived, telling Dad the mouse had been killed. Over the course of that summer my grandpa trapped over 100 mice.
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NYDaughterInLaw Feb 26, 2021
Great point about the horrible unintended consequences of using rat poison. If the shed needs to be torn down, so be it. Rats destroy everything and spread disease. No shed no rats.
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Your dad has dementia and is in a facility. Why on earth would you tell him this? Do what you have to do. Don't discuss it and if it comes up, distract him or make up some line about seeing it later, etc. Sell it now - quietly. Do not upset the apple cart.
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