8 Tips to Keep Calm and Close the Chapter


Your Mom loved living in Sarasota.  She was active and had many lovely friends with whom she played bridge, golfed, and enjoyed cocktail hour.  That made your heart sing knowing she was joyful and taken care of even though you were only able to travel from “up north” to visit her a couple of times a year.

But then this unexpected life event happened.  She graduated rehab with flying colors and has been comfortably situated in an Assisted Living Community. It all happened so fast. Just last month she hit 3 over par and enjoyed a gin and tonic to celebrate!  

Now comes the hard part.  The doc says she won’t be able to live on her own again, and it doesn’t make sense to retain the house she once lived in.  You can’t ask Mildred or Marge, her best golfing buds, to do what comes next.  It’s up to you and your siblings, and where do you begin?

Below are eight tips to help you handle your mom’s personal possessions and real estate from a long-distance perspective now that she is comfortable in her new Sarasota Assisted Living Community.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spend some time thinking about what’s next.  What needs to be done, and who will be handling it.  The worst thing you can do is jump into the “action” phase without seeing the entire big picture. Some things to consider up front:

  • Time
    • How much time will you need to gather, organize, pack, choose, decide, ship, and move her belongings?
    • How much time can you get off work to travel to Sarasota, handle the move, spruce up the property, and put the house on the market and coordinate the sale? 
  • Logistics
    • When do you start?
    • Should you fly down to SRQ, or drive?
    • How many times will you need to make the trip?
    • Which siblings are going to help?
    • Can you coordinate schedules so everyone can work together?
  • Decisions
    • What personal possessions will Mom want in her new home?
    • Who gets which heirloom?
    • Do you ship these precious pieces, or store them?
    • Should you advertise and host an estate sale, or donate?
    • Mom lived in the house for 18 years. It definitely needs some cleaning and possibly a bit of updating in order to sell it. Who will handle THAT?

Choose To Work With A Local And Experienced Partner

Tackling the project of cleaning out a home and readying it for market is a daunting task.  Overseeing the project from 800 miles north of Sarasota is a complete game-changer.   Being an out-of-state personal representative or designated beloved family member is no easy task.

There is a variety of wonderful senior services in Sarasota, and you can call on them for help.  Just to start, you’ll need cleaners, movers (& boxes), painters (& possibly other contractors), packers, shippers, donation charities, a dumpster rental, a Realtor, and a stager.  This is on top of coordinating with doctors, the assisted living facility, insurance adjusters, Medicare, or Medicaid, and …

OR: You might choose a local project manager who will serve as your liaison to coordinate the on-site logistics of removing the personal belongings, prepping, and selling the real property for top dollar.   This is my specialty, and I would first meet with you at the house, discuss the objectives and goals, give you time to remove your personal mementos, and then you’d hand over the key.  From there we’d agree on a master game plan, and I’d follow it to a “T” with good communications along the way.  You head back north to your other responsibilities, and I’ll get your job done here in Sarasota.    

Research The Area Regarding Home Values And Trends

If you’re working with a quality Realtor, she’ll know the area and will give you solid area information about market trends and home values that will guide you on deciding on list price.  Of course, it’s always good to stay up on it yourself to be assured that her guidance is spot on.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Make Your Decisions

Knowing life has taken a left turn for Mom is hard to swallow. The empty house and especially the belongings within it can have a lifetime of fond memories associated with them.   It’s important to feel the emotions that come up, but don’t let your emotions drive you into making decisions too quickly, keeping too many personal belongings that could cost you too much money to store and transport, or lull you into choosing to wait too long and racking up utility, maintenance and holding costs on the property that you weren’t prepared to pay.

Be Diligent, But Don’t Rush

Balancing the emotions of life changes with making rational and prudent decisions is the name of the game.  Each morning, you may wake up feeling that there are too many decisions to make and tasks to attend to, but keep in mind that everything doesn’t need to be completed in this moment.  Give yourself a break. Take one small step at a time and, at the same time, don’t let overwhelm paralyze you.

Weigh The Value Of Spending Time Or Spending Money

Now that you’ve done a thorough analysis of the big picture, you realize the magnitude of what needs to get done while maintaining a life balance back home.  It’s worth considering which you have more of at this point: time or money?  You might be an at-home DIY’er and feel perfectly comfortable handling each piece of this project yourself.  But you’re also being reminded of the work projects and kids soccer games at home that need your time and attention as well.

Consider the value of handing off the project management work to someone who has resources at her fingertips, lives locally, and who can give you a weekly phone or email update on the progress of the project.  That might just be the ticket to help you sleep at night, and you might be pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t cost that much more.

Consider The Tax Or Medicaid Program Implications Of Selling Your Family’s Real Estate

Be sure to consult with your tax advisor and/or your Medicaid Application Consultant regarding how the sale of your Mom’s property could affect your financial picture.  You might find that, at least for a short period, it would be more advantageous to keep the property and lease it to a long-term tenant.  Your project manager should be able to help you with this aspect of the project as well.

Remember to Breathe & Breathe Often.

Through it all, you may find yourself so wrapped up in the “what’s next” that one small, but critical, detail slipped through the cracks.  Stop, take a deep breath, and slow the pace.  Always remember that breathing is your friend, and taking occasional deep breaths does wonders for mitigating the stressful feelings that tend to overwhelm.

Bonus tip: The last task you might want to take time to do before you head back north is to invite Marge, Mildred and your Mom’s golfing buddies over for a gin & tonic and thank them for their friendship.  I’m sure your Mom will love to see each of them in her new living arrangements now and again.  Leave contact information for both you and Mom and head home knowing how proud your Mom would be with the details you’d attended to.  And of course, remember to breathe.

Hi, there!

I'm Jude and I love helping people
who are facing a major life transition
make necessary real estate changes 
gracefully, methodically, and
with the least stress possible. 
Let me know how I can walk you step-by-step down the path to completion. 

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8270 Woodland Center Blvd #156, Tampa, FL 33614





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Hi, there!

I'm Jude Creamer and I love helping people facing a major life transition embark on finding their happy place gracefully, methodically and with the
least stress possible.
Let me know how I can walk you step-by-step down the path to your happy place. 



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