While more people are beginning to draft estate planning documents like a will, trusts, and power of attorney forms they forget that estate planning can also be utilized to make more immediate changes in your life. One of the biggest changes that people in retirement go through is downsizing their home and belongings from a large, family-sized home to something smaller. The following includes tips that you and your loved ones can use to make the process of downsizing easier and more efficient.
Reasons to Downsize
There are many reasons why people in retirement choose to downsize. Some couples realize that they no longer need such a large home once all of their children are grown. Others wish to save money in retirement and move to reduce bills or eliminate a mortgage. Many more downsize because one or both spouses are in declining health and want to live closer to family, medical professionals, and have services included in their new home (maintenance, lawn care, etc.) to alleviate the amount of work that needs to be done.
Tips for Downsizing
· Plan Ahead of Time
Downsizing can take a long time, so planning ahead can take a lot of stress out of the experience. Take time to think about the lack of storage space going from a large home to a smaller one, or how you can take advantage of what space there is to organize what you want to keep.
· Scan It and Digitize It
Scanning all important documents like diplomas, pictures, and certificates can allow you to keep these important items without taking up wall space. After scanning and digitizing the items you can send them to family members, keep them on a hard drive, or put them on an internet cloud like Dropbox. The originals can be taken down, the frames sold, items stored in a book, and they can be reprinted by anyone from the digital form.
· Give Away to Family
Everyone has a lot more stuff than they think, and attempting to downsize from a larger home to a smaller one can really illustrate that fact. When getting rid of all of the unnecessary stuff, give your children and extended family first dibs on what they want. That way some of your belongings will remain with the family before giving the rest away.
· Give Away to Charity
If you still have a lot to get rid of consider about giving it to a worthy charity. Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other charities are in constant need of furniture, home goods, clothing, and more to help others.
· Consider One Floor Living
If one or both spouses are facing a chronic illness, or just to combat the process of aging, consider living in a one floor home. Look for even floor surfaces without steps or sills between rooms to reduce the chances of tripping and falling.
· Consider Accessibility
This area goes beyond wheelchair accessibility. Make sure there is room to place stools, chairs, and benches around the home and in the bathroom. Also look to see if the garbage drop-off is nearby or included in concierge services.
· Ask About Concierge Services
Any services that are included in your new place mean that there is less that you have to do. Ask about whether there is maintenance, lawn care, housekeeping, security, and similar services for your new place.
· Automate It
Consider automating as much of your new place as possible when downsizing. Systems can be installed that easily controls the lighting, temperature, security, garage doors, and even the stove. In addition, bills can be automated as well to eliminate the need to remember to pay every month.