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Dad is 92, can barely hear, can't walk far, and definitely has cognitive issues (per doctor). He is currently living in CA with my brother but he loves his house back in Michigan and won't give us permission to sell it or even start cleaning it out. He thinks he's going back but he hasn't been back in 2 years and it's a tri-level, in a rural area where he would have to drive. There is no family there...we are all on the West Coast. Now with Covid I have nothing on my plate and feel I could drive to MI and shelter in place there, going through stuff and getting it ready to sell. My sibs agree it should be sold but not if dad says no. THEY aren't the ones taking responsibility for ensuring lawn care happens and asking favors of neighbors... for whatever reason they leave it to me. I have the time to do it this summer. I have POA and also am trustee of his trust and deal with all his bills and he never asks anything about it. He would never know if I did sell or at least clear out the garage and basement which are worthy of a Hoarders show. I'm feeling really guilty but my time is also valuable and usually in the summer we travel and who wants to deal with this in Michigan winter? It's not his principal residence anymore and if it isn't sold by Dec 2021 he will have capital gains. It may take two summers to clear it out (90 years of stuff, seriously). Has anyone just done this and not told their parent or even their sibs (because they will end up telling him). He still has a huge temper and they are afraid of his wrath and would rather I take on the blame I think. By the way, before this he was only living there for 1/2 the year anyway for the last 12 years... always saying he would sell it "soon".. it was too overwhelming for him and it's going to be really overwhelming for me too.

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I would at least start cleaning it out and when I was done, I would probably sell it too. I would _not_ tell Dad what was going on with the house; I might not tell the sibs either unless you believe one or more might be interested in purchasing the house at fair market value. Clean up the yard and landscaping and take a nice photo for your father (and maybe some interior pics too), when you visit tell him truthfully "I took this/these the last time I was there".

Unoccupied houses seldom maintain value and often develop major repair/maintenance issues or are vandalized. There are usually problems with insurance too. Occasionally these days, empty houses end up with squatters that must be evicted. Paying taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees on a house your father will never be able to live in again does not make financial sense. If your father is having cognitive issues, I believe the POA needs to act in the father's best interest and sale this house while it can bring market value. That might not be until the economy recovers from CV (although I understand some rural homes are selling well as people want to get out of the cities), but you can at least get started with the cleanup.
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It sounds as though you have answered your own question. If you have POA, then go for the summer and take your time cleaning, sorting, donating and selling. Get a large roll off dumpster, have a garage sale every Saturday, tell the customers to come back every Saturday as you will have new items.

Vacant homes attract trouble. As you remove the clutter and hoard, you will probably find some deferred maintainance issues. Having the luxury of time to roll through this huge project beats the urgency and rush of having to do it in a hurry. As POA you have been chosen for your ability to manage for the best interest of your Dad. Cleaning up his house is most likely not on your siblings list of things they are wanting to do.

Hire a local high school student or retired friend to help you stage your garage sale and enjoy the memories.
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You’ll get plenty of answers so here’s a short one: siblings put up or shut up. Either they participate or they have no vote. Do what you need to do!
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Agreed, esp if you are the only POA/trustee. If any of them are also, you'll have to force the issue somewhat. One brother wasn't local when we did the whole POA/trust thing initially for mom and dad, so he wasn't set up as POA, only me and YB. When we had to revisit the trust business as mom was heading down the dementia path, OB was here, so he was included in the trust paperwork at the atty place, but was not added as POA (thankful he wasn't!) There was lots of mail back and forth to get all the actual trust setup done, as he was back home.

All too often siblings sometimes don't want to help (until it comes time to split the remains anyway!), disagree with decisions, criticize, complain or worse. I tried to include both brothers in decisions, etc, but eventually gave up - it was too much effort sometimes to just get a simple response! I don't bother anymore. They have questions about how I handle everything for mom, including the trust, they should be asking NOW.

In OP's case, I would make 1-2 attempts and then just do whatever needs to be done. Don't waste time on anger, as it only hurts you, not them. Guilt? No. You tried for years to get this done (not as many for me, but yeah, I brought it up with mom and was rebuffed.)

Cleaning out I would save anything he might like (or the family might enjoy) aside and bring that back with you. Trash the actual trash. Furniture and kitchen type items, if no one wants them in the family, either yard sale or donate. Don't waste time thinking you have some antiques unless you know for certain something is. Mom had some older real wood furniture, but it really is/was a dime a dozen and not worth much of anything! What my bothers didn't want we donated to a local place that helps people get a fresh start, to the neighbor for her church rummage sale, etc. I did end up with items coming here, so now MY place is full of crap too! Some are nice dishes, but don't really need them, the rest is mostly left over junk (fake flowers anyone?) OB kept bringing here - I don't want them!!!
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I was running into a similar situation. My mother didn't want to sell her home and as I get older, I truly understand the angst she was experiencing on all different levels.
I debated, and made Ben Franklin 'balance sheets' and asked people and fretted over my dilemma so much that it made me sick and I felt guilty every time I looked at my mother because I was going to do this behind her back.
I should have done what she always taught me to do first: pray about it. So I sat down and put myself in HER shoes. I tried to imagine the reasons she wanted to keep a house she would probably never return to, retain belongings that she wouldn't ever get to use, and property that would require money to maintain.
It boiled down to a number of undisputed facts that none of us are keen to admit: (1) that she was going to die in the not-to-distant future; (2) the house represented all her memories, and without them, she would forget her life and become a 'non-entity' with dementia; and (3) it represented 'security' - the kind that we, who have never lived through a depression (maybe until now), can't possibly understand.
The anger and resentment she displayed stemmed from losing control of... everything. And so I decided to call in a friend who was a realtor and have the three of us sit down and discuss the options. I stressed to Mom that we were not going to sign anything that day. We were just getting information and a professional opinion from someone who had experience with lots of other families who were facing similar decisions. She relaxed and almost looked forward to the meeting.
Donna spoke to HER - NOT to me - as if she was a functioning adult who 'knew how many beans made five' as Mom was fond of saying. She talked about the market, the real estate taxes, the maintenance costs, the condition of the roof, etc. and the dollar amount that Mom could realistically expect to glean from a sale. She told her that storage garages were a great option to use for belongings she wanted to keep, and she had several names of reputable people who would clear out anything that she didn't want anymore. Additionally, Donna told her that the house could be sold "where is, as is," a phase I had never heard before. Mom wouldn't have to have anything updated or repaired, and could leave the heavy hope chest in the attic and the piano she never played in the dining room if she so chose.
With the assurance from me that I would never place her in a nursing facility, etc., but could use some of the equity to help with her care at home, as well as the cost of the storage unit that housed her keepsakes, she relaxed. Mom accepted all this information from Donna, but you can be sure she wouldn't have listened to a word if it had come out of my mouth! By the end of the day, Mom was anxious to have Donna come back so she could sign the papers.
After it was done, I often asked her if she wanted to go to the house or drive by it, and she always said no. It was as though that phase of her life was over, and she was free to start living the new one! A burden had been lifted from off HER shoulders. Who would have known? She lived several more years with me and passed peacefully in my arms.
All situations are different. You have to do what is right for you and your family, but I just wanted to give you a little different perspective.
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Ioanna May 2020
What an amazing daughter you were! And human being.
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My heart goes out to you.

We have a similar situation. Dad has hoarded for years. Unfortunately he can still get to the house, which is in a trust, and he notices if anything is out of place.

My brother and I are the remainder men to the trust. I would like to tackle some of the mess, my brother does not want to rock the boat.

The property is on an island with no garbage pick up, so we have to pay big bucks or rent trucks to have the garbage removed.

If I were you, I would go ahead, drive cross county and start the clean up process.
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kdcm1011 May 2020
I agree with all you said here.
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It’s obvious your dad is not thinking straight, and that’s reason enough to go ahead and sell. I would fly there and rent a car or truck and charge it to dad. I would not stay any longer than 3-4 weeks to get the job done and get out of there as quickly as possible. But I would hire local people to help out. Garage sales are never worth the effort I would contact a non-profit company that will come out and pick up all large items, furniture, tables, chairs etc. towards the end of your stay. Donate, donate, donate and if someone will come out and pick up all these items that’s even better!! Two out of the last five years to avoid capital gains seems to me that it needs to be sold by the end of this year, not sometime next year!! Good luck! Get going!!
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My father sent me an email in Jan 2017, 'take a leap of faith' asking for myself, my son and our 4 animals to move into my elderly parents home. My father has passed and now I am caregiver for my Alzheimers, narcissist mother and the home. In the course of being here and moving here, 4 floods (mostly dementia) and Irma taking the roof, Ive lost just about everything material as well as my own wellbeing and sanity. When I first arrived I took photos of the atrocious hoarding, snake skin in the corner of the living room, cock roaches spilling out of the dish washer etc., I sent them to the Hoarders show. They were very interested in featuring us at the time. My sister talked me out of it, "Would you really want to put our family out there like that?" I should have because she shafted me several times getting me stuck here as my parents 24/7 caregiver while she stayed remote 'sending faxes and making phone calls for our parents' believing somehow that was equal contribution to the massive responsibilities of clearing the hoarding, recuperating from catastrophes and dealing with their care, that of the house and the hateful HOA constantly on our ass about the disarray of the home and yard. Email the hoarders show or hire people to help you clear that bitch, keep track of your time and bill your siblings - the funds can come out of whatever inheritance they get from sale of the house. It isnt as easy to pawn off stuff to thrift shops as your brothers and sisters might believe. Plus there are the emotions involved you will be dealing with while emptying the house. Bring your dad momentos from the home from time to time, if you make those moments joyful its YOU who will receive the small rewards of joy you might get with your father. It should be a law that the sibling that gets stuck doing all the work is compensated.
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Yikes! Glad that wasn't me... I had already made my decision that there was no way I could take care of my mother, her place or mine. Various reasons, all legit, esp the physical inability to support her weight.

I had to post to agree with your statement "It isnt as easy to pawn off stuff to thrift shops as your brothers and sisters might believe."

Initially that was the plan for mom's ton of clothes, but of the first load I took there, only a few items were accepted and 1 maybe 2 items actually sold. At that point I was done with that! Despite getting donation papers from GoodWill, the tax guy said I couldn't deduct any without an appraisal. So, the only good to come of that was 1) we got rid of most of the clothes and 2) perhaps they helped someone. Brothers took some furniture, the rest was donated and tax guy did allow deductions for those items. Otherwise, just get rid of it the best way you can!
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Make the goal to get it sold by August, 2021.
use the capital gains as the rationale as to why and then do a quick costs to keep (add on like 20% for inflation and make sure all costs, like repairs, yard, winterizing, insurances) as well, so that financially it costs big time to keep. Legally it sounds like you can do whatever, I’d just go ahead and keep it on the down low. Folks are gonna be pissed & second guess you no matter what, right? Ignore the drama.

If your not billing the trust MIE (Mileage and incidental expenses), I’d start doing that..... but not actually billing the Trust. You hold that lil missive back and if you get blowback, it’s more $$$ that non-decision making is gonna cost dad and the heirs. MIE kinda gives you leverage, Comprende?

Also next August, gives you a Basically a year, which imho Covid concerns will be lessened, and better position to actually get a property sold. You put it on the market next spring, so it shows when weather is best. Then if not sold by July drop price (motivated seller). Really a Realtor will be invaluable for you thru this.

Also when you’re there this summer, I wouldn’t take this on all by myself. I’d speak with either Realtors or if you have any old friends there, as to finding a duo to help get the place “market ready”. Place is huge so plenty of social distancing possible. There might be stuff buried in rooms that actually could work to have it staged “rustic” to sell. There are folks that are pros at staging and editing a house filled to the rafters in short time frame.
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jacobsonbob May 2020
If stuff has been sitting there so many years, there may also be collectibles there that could be sold on eBay or elsewhere.
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I agree with everyone who says you should start NOW getting his home ready to sell but before you take that step to sell it please check with an attorney. When I sold my dad's home I had power of attorney, and luckily he had grudgingly agreed to the need to sell. I signed the paperwork with the realtor, etc and we got all the way to settlement when suddenly they wanted HIS signature on the final paperwork. I was again lucky that he was willing to sign. I can't imagine the issues had he suddenly changed his mind (which was always a concern.) I don't know why they wanted him to sign, or if it was just one of the whims of the settlement attorney, but in your situation, where you would be selling the house without his consent I'd be concerned. You can be in legal trouble if someone declared that you were not acting in your father's best interest i.e., his stated desire to NOT sell his house. Unless you could show that you HAD to sell the house for financial reasons. In that situation, it would be hard to make the case that it was in your father's best interests just because he wouldn't be using it anymore.

To get my dad to agree to sell the house I had to use the idea that he was being unfair to a new family who could enjoy the house and that since he wasn't living in it it would deteriorate and would be eventually bought by people who would have to tear it down and build a new house on his lot. He loved his house and the idea that it would be torn down unless he sold NOW was very compelling to him. Luckily the buyer was a young couple that he knew.
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"...wanted HIS signature on the final paperwork."

Pretty much what we encountered (posted in reply to another comment.) EC attorney said I could sign everything else as POA, but NOT the deed. As my comment says, I find that ridiculous - I can't sign as her legit POA, but she, with dementia, no clue and had already forgotten the condo, was "okay" to sign... at least we could do this with notary at the MC facility - if we had to bring her to closing... eeeech!
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Hi, You have my sympathy. I went through that with my mother in Assisted Living, unable to walk but unwilling to sell. Difference was I had no living siblings and it was my mother's prime residence. I hope you aren't paying for the upkeep. I don't know about the tax consequences, so talk to someone who knows. Selling it out of the estate when he passes might be better at this point. You will not get much for the "stuff". I had an estate sale when my mother died with very nice stuff in a three story house plus garage. It included all my father's first class tools, mother's antiques, high end crystal, china plus stuff from their summer house, my late brother's house, etc. In 6 sale days about half sold. Cleared $5000. Still had to clear out the other half and paid about 2000 to do that. It helped with repair costs on an unoccupied house. Spent 15,000 on a new roof because there was no way to sell it without doing that. Original tin roof was over 100 years old! Shortly before my mother died I had finally started clearing things out and dearly wish I had started sooner. There will be more actual junk than you can even imagine.... dried up paint cans, broken things. Start there. Pack up and label all sentimental items such as photos that you can never sell. This will take so much time. Get started. You will also be able to see what needs to be repaired before selling. Good luck.
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"There will be more actual junk than you can even imagine..."

I second the motion!! Some is actual trash (mom kept the caps off frozen mac 'n cheese in kitchen drawers, plus 2 baggies of various pills, broken stuff, dried up paint, etc, just like you said!)

Most of the rest wasn't worth much of anything, esp the tons of clothes she collected over years of bargain shopping (Marshall's and TJMax, recently referred to their buyers as Maxinistas! She was clearly one, but too many items were "outdated" - most of that didn't fit her and went to GoodWill just to get rid of it, but perhaps put it to good use somewhere.)

Whatever furniture my brothers didn't want went to a Home goods donation place to help people in need, and they even took mattresses! A lot went to trash. A lot more should have but my dumb OB brought several loads of crap to my house, stuff I don't need or want!
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