Mom is going into Assisted Living and I have a question. When can I start to get rid of "excess" items? - AgingCare.com

Mom is going into Assisted Living and I have a question. When can I start to get rid of "excess" items?

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My mother is going into assisted living. My step-dad will be living in "her" home until something happens to him. I am an only child so I will inherit what my mother has, even though I'm "not to know" what is in her living will. A trusted person told me what I will inherit. Ok, now my question: My mother as well as my step-father are "both" hoarders. My mother has lived in this home for 78 years; she is 92 now, and no she will not be coming back home to live. Because of the fact that she is/was a hoarder I really would like to go to her home and get rid of the "excess" items that are in the home; for example, I don't think my step-dad needs 100 bath towels in the spare bathroom. It's just stuff like that. Someone told me I can't do that as long as my step-dad is living in the home. Another thing, why couldn't I start to get rid of the 100's of shoes, and clothing that I "know" she will never use again. Just a question. And, no folks, I'm not trying to get rid of her.

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Why would you think he wouldn’t be responsible for utilities or upkeep on his home? Who would he pay “rent” to?
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Reply to rocketjcat
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My mom and stepdad had similar arrangement. They married on mom's 80th bday. They had a prenuptial as well and lived in mom's house. Mom had to move to memory care after I had provided care for them both for four years. The prenuptial stated that stepdad could remain in the home for two years if mom passed first. Nothing about if mom needed care facility first. Though stepdad wanted to be close to mom so he moved to AL in the same facility. The house was sold about nine months later. Thank goodness that stepdad had good federal retirement about 4k a month and ss so that paid for most of his AL. Though he was a couple of thousand short each month that came from his savings.

Had he lived long enough, in spite of the prenuptial, mom would have been required to pay that couple of thousand until she was down to assets as permitted by Medicaid. Yes, mom, because of the marriage would have been responsible for the cost of his care.

Prenups mean nothing to Medicaid, I don't know about veterans benefits and how that is handled if stepdad has no money but mom does. You would be wise to consult with an elder law attorney.
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Reply to gladimhere
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Reply to freqflyer
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Willienme1950, your Step-Dad would not be living rent free in the house. If the house has a mortgage, he would be required to pay said mortgage no different than if your Mom was still living there. He would still be responsible for the utilities, the homeowner's insurance and any other insurances on said house. He would be responsible for all the repairs that are needed on the house.

It might be written in your Mom's Will that her husband gets "life use" of said home. Or even language if your Mom needs to move to continuing care. Thus her husband can live there for as long as he is able, and even if he goes into continuing care, he still has life use of the home. "Life use" is removed upon his passing, and then the house goes to whomever your Mom has listed in her Will. Your Step-Dad could even later put into writing that he no longer wants life-use of the house. But then again, maybe there is no life-use language in Mom's Will or other paperwork.

Just be patient. If know it can be confusing when there are second+ marriages and there are his children and her children plus any children born of that union.

What if the situation was in reverse?
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Reply to freqflyer
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Willienme1950, it's good to be thinking ahead, but, legalities aside and as others have said, it's also wise to not rush into doing things that might be disruptive and cause stress to your step-dad as well as to your mom when he tells her what you're doing. When my wife was guardian of her aunt whom she moved to assisted living, we kept a close eye on her home in Rupert and while it was tempting to start decluttering, my wife only allowed me to make repairs and do yard work -- she was very aware that the house and its belongings did not belong to heirs as long as her aunt was alive.

It sounds like your mom tried hard to plan her estate, but that there might be a hole in her plan, e.g. what happens to her home if she needs to permanently move into a care facility, but then again, what is happening might be exactly what she had planned, i.e. if she moved to a care facility, then her husband could stay in her home rent free, rather than move to a veterans home in Pocatello or Boise, and he would thus be close enough to her that he could visit her frequently. If so, that seems like a pretty good plan.

So, unless there's a serious safety problem caused by the "clutter" (remember one person's trash is another's treasure), your energies right now are probably better spent on helping your mom and step-dad adjust to their new living arrangements, monitoring and assisting with your mom's care, and enjoying her company while she is still at least somewhat cognizant. I think it's best to try forgetting about the clutter issue until you have to deal with it and can legally do so.
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Reply to bicycler
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In the prenuptial agreement it was probably assumed that stepdad would live there as long as your mother is still alive, as long as they are still married, if there is no language in there suggesting otherwise. I couldn't see someone wanting their spouse to have to move out if he/she got ill and had to move to a facility. She probably depends on him too to help take care of the house. It may not seem fair, but if that was the agreement, it should be respected.

Inheritance will depend on what is actually written in the will/how it is written, the language in the prenuptial agreement, as well as your state's laws on marital property. An attorney could help answer these questions when the time comes.

However, I agree with others here that much if not all of it will probably have to go to pay for care, unless your mother is extremely wealthy or has a long term care insurance policy. Long term care is outrageously expensive.

As far as mom's excess stuff, you could always talk to mom and stepdad and see if it would be okay to clean out some of mom's extra stuff.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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As many have stated here; it is not your home and you must be respectful of this. You could,however, offer to help him clean and organize his home so that it is easier for him to get around if the hording is encroaching upon his living space. You could also suggest using EBay to make a few extra dollars for himself. Approach this topic with caution and make sure you know your place.
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Reply to Angiemn3
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I totally agree with FF. In this situation, it matters not much who thinks it’s not fair. There probably isn’t anything in the wills or agreements that says everybody has to think it’s fair before the terms are executed. If Mom and Step-Dad were cognizant enough of their situation before they married to draw up a pre-nup, their attorney probably put a lot of legalese in there about what will happen “if” and “when”. It will most likely take another attorney to figure it out.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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The home that my mother and Step-dad live in is my mothers home. They did have a pre-nuptial agreement when they married. When my mother passes, the my step-dad is allowed to stay in the home for six months to prepare to go to the VA home. Nothing is said anywhere about "what if my mother goes into a home before she passes." So the impression I'm getting is that my step-dad can live in this home rent free, pay no utilities at all until my mother passes. I'm not sure that is fair.
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Reply to Willienme1950
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Willienme, this is complex, your Mom and Step-Dad have lived in that home. Both are going into continuing care facilities. It would be up to the financial person who has Power of Attorney for your Mom, and the financial person who has Power of Attorney for your Step-Dad to come to a mutual agreement regarding the house and possessions as per the request of both elders.

Is there anything in writing by both parents as to what should be done to the house and the contents if they go into continuing care? If one passes first, does the other get "life estate"? Or the whole estate which is usually what happens with a married couple? If yes, then nothing can be done with the house until the last person passes on.   Then it will be up to the Executor to by by the rules of the Will of the last person.  Hopefully the last elder will still be able to decide on what to do the house.

I would visit with an Elder Law Attorney, or the Attorney that your Mom and Step-Dad had used to draw up their Wills, POA's, and Medical Directors, if any.
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Reply to freqflyer
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