Hoarding Woes: Those Many Discussions……….Helped!

My hoarding aunt had a hard time envisioning she would depart this world without all her stuff. She made no bones about it…’I’m taking it with me’. It took numerous discussions to finally convince her to do the unthinkable: complete her Advanced Directives for Health Care and decide who would make decisions for her re her health if she were incapacitated; set up a Power of Attorney for her immediate financial matters while alive; and create a Living Trust (as opposed to a will) and decide who in her life would receive what. 

This took months and month to complete and in the end, she sat with her attorney alone and went over every item and signed the solid line. As her life played out, all these important decisions came into action and I had to execute them as her representative/trustee.

Today, I met with her attorney and we went over our shared responsibilities and my tasks in the months ahead. The whole process will take about four more months assuming the flow of paperwork doesn’t stall. Letters are going out re the winners and the losers. Eek!

A suggestion that may or may not be of value because my Auntie had trouble visualizing something if it wasn’t on paper, before her: I took a clean sheet of paper each session while discussing her beneficiaries and dated it. I wrote each potential name down. She would discuss and anguish over the names, but we did this many times until the who’s and %’s were established. It changed and changed, but patterns emerged of whom was never in the mix and that could be important later. I have all those papers and the attorney has copies of them as well. The decisions may be simple and equal. But, in my aunt’s case she was very thoughtful at revisiting her decisions until the pattern emerged and it was evident what she wanted.

So, her final taxes have to be prepared. I am assembling the year end doc’s that are necessary. I have to determine her worth on the date of her death. I have to remember that she lived a little over a month in this year and see if taxes are owed for 2012. Holding accounts for the trust have to be created different than their current buckets.

The weather doesn’t look great for the weekend, but probably going to order a drop box and work the kinks out. There is a fair amount of already bagged stuff in the house from last Summer that was loaded and then the bottom fell out with my aunt breaking her neck and her going home with that burden plus emerging mess seem no longer feasible. We left everything where it was and just maintained the home. Now, the rest of the year will be parted out in spans of attack. As I have said, remind me I said we would go slow.

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2 thoughts on “Hoarding Woes: Those Many Discussions……….Helped!

  1. annietiques

    There is so much important information in this post………kuddos for helping your Auntie put it all on paper!! Many people do indeed turn on the executor of a will or trust…..it is important to remind those affected you are merely executing HER decisions not yours.

    Even though my father did everything he could to streamline distribution of his assets after death, there were family members who caused great pain and stress. Thankfully we had a great attorney and well written documents to quide us.

    Please take this slow……….and extra month or two is OK! It is so hard to visualize a 25′ x 25′ area crammed with stuff…….plus all the other areas in this home………please take care of yourself and your team!

  2. Ginny

    Great information! And I would encourage anyone who is seeing signs of dementia to start having those kinds of discussions sooner rather than later. Dementia is so much more than a memory problem. What slips away is the ability to process information or to see relationships between things or to follow a sequence of events or to rationalize. All that leads to paranoia. If you see that, or if talking with an elderly loved one makes your head spin, it could be a warning sign. Get the POA and trusts done before it turns into a nightmare.

    Even in early stages my mom would express different opinions on different days. There were days she wished I hadn’t been born, yet the next day she insisted I could have anything of hers that I wanted. I knew it was the disease, but if we had a bigger family with those at a distance not comprehending what was going on, I can see how her promises could lead to problems. We’re fortunate that Mom did plan ahead and we all know her wishes. I think I’m the most possessive of “stuff” so my only worry is that something of real sentimental value might be given away or thrown away. We don’t have a hoarding situation so I can yell “WAIT!” on some things until I have time to go through them.

    Your comment about your Auntie wanting to take her stuff with her reminded me that it had crossed my mind when she was hanging on a little at the end that she might have been struggling with that very thing. For someone who had surrounded herself with stuff that meant a whole lot to her, it must have been so emotionally painful to let go of that comfort when she moved to the foster home, and even harder when she had to release it completely at the end. Such a sweet lady.

    It sounds like you have a good plan for the cleanup. One thing I learned is to break big tasks into small steps so that I can check things off the list more often and feel successful. That really helps when I’m going slow, so I feel I’m making progress even when I only do a little bit each day.

    Don’t forget, you said you’d go slow! 🙂

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