The early stages of downsizing are critical to ensuring a smooth ride, especially if there are a number of family members involved.
Here are a few steps to take right away: have a family discussion, come up with a downsizing plan and start the process.
The Family Discussion
The discussion is best handled by having those involved meet in person at the home, if possible. If not, then have a meeting with those who are available locally combined with a conference call with those family members who can’t be physically present. It is very important for all involved to respect the wishes of the person or parent who is downsizing regarding all the major aspects of the process such as the timing, location, and extent of the change. This would be a good time to review “The Basics” of downsizing if you have not already done so. The Why, When, Where, Who and How all need to be discussed as a group. “When” is important since that drives the dates in the plan. “Where” is important since it drives the space requirements and the funds available for the next location. “Who” is key since that identifies which parts of the process will be done by family members and which parts will require extra help or specialized skills.
A plan identifies the tasks, the key dates (start/milestones/end) and the person(s) responsible. You might want to split up some of the duties by skills required such as: organizational, photographic, financial etc. The sequencing of tasks builds out the plan into logical stages so that you can progress in an efficient, effective manner.
The Process – Early Stages
Before touching anything, take photos and videos of the living space as is. This will be helpful in the future if you need to go back and refresh your memory of what was in the home and where things were located. It is surprising how quickly you forget how things used to be when you move.
Rather than listing all the items in the home, have each person “speak up” about what they would like and record all of the “wants” in a shared spreadsheet. List all the wanted items along with a “wanted by” column for each person who is eligible for items. If only one person wants a particular item, then there is no discussion or negotiation needed regarding that item. If two or more people want the same item then they can negotiate with each other. Have another column for identifying the person who “gets” the item. Then the distribution is visible to everyone and the process is transparent. If there are any questions later about who got what, just refer back to the spreadsheet. There might be some follow-up negotiation after the process is finished.
Have one person act as the arbitrator if there is a tie over an item in order to break the tie. Choose the person before circulating the list of items for choices.
Since the tone of emails is often misunderstood, use email as a confirmation tool, not as a negotiation or dispute method. A simple phone call provides clearer communication.
What has your own experience been, so far?
Watch for upcoming articles/posts with more suggestions on the “During” stage of downsizing.
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Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored in quill & pen by …
Paul Ferri, Broker
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*
*Each office independently owned and operated