To Garage Sale or To Donate, may be long,need solution.

aceySeptember 29, 2007

My brother and I recently moved my widowed Mom to my brother's house after she had another fall while living alone. My brother and his son moved her house contents into his house, garage, and an enclosed trailer he has. We are talking furniture, kitchen stuff, linens, art work, and STUFF.

Subsequently, she did not like living with my brother who is never home and works 7 days a week, so it was I who went with her to tour and choose a senior living community to move to. I arranged movers to move the furniture she needed: bed, couch, table, etc, and a small amount of dishes, towels, and necessary linens, and favorite art. I took the day off of work (without pay)to move her. She is completely set up and needs nothing more of the stuff left at my brother's.

I have taken charge of:

getting her house ready to sell, including:

painting her house

cleaning it

ordering new carpet for it

interviewing realtors

taking Mom to all new physicians (4 so far)

copying medical records to get to the new docs

taking her to a myriad of appointments (ongoing)

changing address

ordering new checks

overseeing her checkbooks and that bills are paid on time

turning off and on the old /new phone, utilities, etc.

hanging her artwork

installing her new chandelier

installing new phones and teaching her how to use

repositioning her furniture

installing "cat door" in the sliding glass door of the senior apartment

shopping for her for appropriate chairs she needed

ordering her new medications

taking her to coumadin clinics (she will soon use the little bus the senior place has, once I know her medical situation is under control and I no longer feel I must go with her)

I am taking another day off without pay Tuesday to go with her to several medical tests (got them all on one day for my convenience)

The list goes on and on.

I also work full time and her new apartment and my brother's house are both 45 minutes drive from my home. Her apartment and my brother's house are only 6 miles apart. My brother has visited her twice since she moved.

My brother, God love him, is now calling saying he really needs to have garage sales to get the stuff sold so he can get his house back. I appreciate that, but it seems to be falling on my shoulders. His weekend job is a fun one, where he makes tips and gets to work with his grown son, so he doesn't want to sacrifice any time to host a garage sale out of his own home.

I am tired, have sacrificed time away from my own home and family during this period. The LAST thing I want to do is have a garage sale in my brother's home, when he won't be around to help.

My brother has a grown daughter who has a couple kids and could use some money. She does have Sundays off. She could help me. Mom could come, and has said she needs to get over there to start price tagging, but she doesn't drive, so somebody would have to take her.

Now, she doesn't need the money that could be generated from this sale, and I bet it could make several hundred bucks.


I'm seriously thinking of telling her "Mom, I do not/ can not help with this project. I'm spent, and need to say no at this point. Brother will HAVE to take time off from work and do it. If he cannot or will not, I suggest you either offer hosting the sale and the subsequent proceeds to your granddaughter as a way to get some more money for her family, plus she is young and would have the energy to do it, and she lives nearby. She could get friends to help her, maybe. You don't need the money, quite frankly, but we do need to empty brother's house soon. The incentive to offer this project to your granddaughter would be that she could pocket the proceeds. You'd be helping the girl and her young family.

OR, Mom, I'd like to call Habitat for Humanity, let them bring a truck one day, and take everything away, and you can take an income tax write-off".

OK, as you can see, I'm tired, feel used by my brother, whose sole contribution so far was moving Mom to his house initially, and who is happy to call me and tell me to start getting stuff sold at his house, and he can't be there to help.

Please tell me what you would do.....I love my Mom and my brother, but I'm really needing to draw a line.

Thanks, all!

From, Acey

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Yes, you really do need to draw the line. Why not let your Mom decide?

You can give HER the choice;
"Mom, I simply cannot help with this project. I'm spent, and need to say no at this point. There are several options open however.

1) You can ask Brother to take time off from work and do it.

2) If he cannot or will not, then you can offer hosting the sale and the subsequent proceeds to your granddaughter as a way to get some more money for her family, plus she is young and would have the energy to do it, and she lives nearby. She could get friends to help her, maybe. You don't need the money, quite frankly, but we do need to empty brother's house soon. The incentive to offer this project to your granddaughter would be that she could pocket the proceeds. You'd be helping the girl and her young family.

3) Alternatively, perhaps you AND granddaughter can co-host it. Granddaughter could come pick you up and help with pricing and set up. You could spell each other on sale days and split the proceeds.

4)Or, Mom, you can call Habitat for Humanity, let them bring a truck one day, and take everything away, and you can take an income tax write-off".

What would you like to do, Mom?"

If she is simply unable to make the decision, then do what involves the least amount of effort on your part.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 11:25AM
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I agree with zone8 - take the easiest path for yourself. But I'm not sure I'd let Mom make the wrong decision for you... and she might. I don't know why, but Mothers might tend to think this kind of activity is better handled by their daughters than their sons. Since you've provided her with necessities and a surrounding of her favorite things, the former house and contents might not carry much meaning for her anymore.

One thing I've learned since relocating back to MN and in dealing with elderly relatives who relied on me very heavily so they could remain "independent" - though appreciative and often offering to compensate, it oftentimes wasn't thought of as anything out of the ordinary (it's what relatives do simply because it's right) or as taking time away from my own life and responsibilities.

In the case of an aunt who had a lovely apartment filled with good furniture and nice things, my brother and I, being practical people if nothing else, ended up selling everything outright to an estate auction company. They could add it to other lots for a future auction, make a big profit on it - we didn't care. First, after the funeral, we invited the cousins and the surviving siblings in to take away a memento or something they had use for. The remainder was appraised, paid for outright, and carted away without further involvement by us. It was easy and neat and a pretty good indicator of what used furniture and things are worth in the open market to an outsider who doesn't care a whit about sentiment. We ended up with $2500 to add to her estate - which I'm willing to bet was a far cry from what garage sale proceeds would have been.

Donating to charities and taking a tax deduction involve a lot more work now than it once did. The IRS can deny deductions for items deemed to have minimal value. And when the total amount of donated non-cash gifts exceeds $500, you have to file form 8283 with the returns detailing your generosity. If the tax examiners look closely, having to back up your claim might be necessary.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 1:43PM
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Thanks Grandma, and Duluth.
Good points, and I appreciate. Tell me Duluth, do those estate auction people take all the stuff? I mean, besides furniture, and things of value, what about the old sheets, the old cheese grater, the folding chair, the old coffee pot. I mean, I need all the stuff gone!!!!WILL THEY TAKE ALL???

I do appreciate the remark that tax deductions may be difficult, and God knows I don't need an audit if we declare something erroneously!!! I don't want that grief!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Incredible as it may sound, they took everything right down to dented pots and pans, bags of platic grocery bags, and stacks of margerine tubs from the dishwasher. The only thing left after they'd vacuumed and locked the door was a penny wedged in the carpet nap.

Don't know where you are, but if in a town or city of some size you're bound to have outfits like this - either independent auctioneers or connected to a local auction house. And I think it's a good business for people to be in because getting rid of stuff - especially someone else's - is really one of the hardest things. I'd imagine a lot of things we might think are useless are auctioned off as closed boxed lots, etc. And I know these folks in the business have outlets for stuff that is deemed unsaleable - raggedy towels, etc. to animal shelters, some plastics and metals to recyclers, and some no doubt to their own industrial sized dumpster. In effect, they buy the entire lot of contents including all the good the bad and the indifferent.

The only thing in this is to make sure that personal items - pictures, old saved letters, medical records, important paper documents are removed beforehand so they don't get swept up in the mix. I had access to my aunt's apartment since I was her financial POA and my brother designated her executor, and for the couple of months she spent in a nursing home before her death, I had the opportunity to go through things with a fine toothed comb - disposing of underthings, decades worth of pantyhose, old make up, piled up magazines, accumulated junk mail - all the kinds of things that get thrown into drawers. Luckily, she had her papers and saved family/personal memorabelia all boxed and labeled so it was just a question of carting the boxes to my home. Was like opening up a time capsule going through all that stuff later!

This outfit gave us a few options. They'd take the stuff and auction it off "whenever" and send us the proceeds minus their cut afterwards; hold the sale or auction in the apartment itself (not sure what happened to things unsold if we opted for that); or buy it all outright. The last option was really a win/win.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 5:00PM
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Excellent report, Duluth. I shall begin a look-see for auction outfits here. I agree the buy it outright would be my choice. Thanks for quick reply.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 5:27PM
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Wait! Did you say they VACUUMED too??? What a deal!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 7:12PM
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I would emphasize going through the personal stuff first to salvage things important to the family before letting the auction house etc. take the rest.

An elderly aunt in Edinburgh Scotland took a fall and was hospitalized. She had left instructions with her lawyer to sell everything. She evidently intended that this would be after she had died. She had every intention of leaving her house feet first. As she was unfit to communicate at that point and had run out of funds her lawyer chose to interpret that he should sell everything immediately and place her in a care home with the proceeds of the sale. By the time the family in Canada were notified and I was able to get to Edinburgh the house had been sold and all of its contents auctioned off. The things we missed the most had little monetary value. They were clothing, photographs, address book, LP records and home made marmalade.

By the way the auction made a surprising amount of money, mostly for antiques I would not have given any thought about.

My aunt did make a good recovery and lived comfortably in her care home for years afterward. The funds from the sale of the house were more than enough for her needs.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 9:30PM
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Your brother has said he wants his house back. He's not willing to help. Call either an auction house or Salvation Army to come and take everything they will take. If there's true 'junk' left, let your brother put it out with the garbage bit by bit until it's G.O.N.E.

That's what I would do. Right now, though, I need to go through some drawers and discard old pantyhose (and several pair of nice white cotton gloves)!LOL

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 12:11PM
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How about printing off the list of the stuff that you've done for Mom recently, including mileages.

And a list of what dear Bro. has done.

Then look at him with a wry smile and a cocked eye ...

... and ask him how he thinks it may be fair to ask more of you?

Some folks seem to think that such stuff just happens ...

... like apples falling off of the trees in the fall.

Habitat may haul off stuff that relates to housing and construction, but I doubt that they'd be interested in a lot of house contents and personal stuff - but I don't know what they may offer to do in your area.

Salvation Army or Goodwill might ... or Value Village, if they are in your area.

Does your Mom have any good neighbours who are retired and in good health, who might be interested to deal with it? But that wouldn't work with your brother, I'm sure. It'd probably get him to be home to help clear up, though.

I like the idea of the grand-daughter being the main one to look after it, if everyone is happy with that.

Good luck for getting the situation straightened out without too much hassle.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 12:27AM
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And don't forget to retrieve the leg out of the barbeque!

Here is a link that might be useful: Leg

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 2:21PM
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I'm betting that your mom does not itemize on her tax return and so even if she donates would not claim the charity deduction! At your mom's age most people have paid off their home and they do better by claiming the standard deduction rather than itemizing.

This would be great chance for extra money for your niece. I would have loved to do something like this to earn extra money! I might auction some things, others flea market, and some ebay. She could actually make quite a bit of money!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:20AM
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Been checking back in on this thread with interest and hope the original poster lets us know how it might all be resolved.

I have a few random thoughts that I hope doesn't put me in the grinch category:

1. Even though the mother is housed comfortably elsewhere and not in need of funds, the possessions left behind are still, in effect, hers. If she wishes that someone benefit from the sale of the things left behind, that "someone" is the person who should be doing the lion's share of the work to dispose of them in a meaningful way. If the OP is the one expected to take care of things, she should have carte blanch to handle it how she sees fit - possibly not taking the niece or brother into account.

2. Again, read up on the possible IRS pitfalls of going over the $500 non-cash donation threshhold.

3. How much time does one wish to spend going through and pricing things right down to the last Flintstone jelly glass everyone seems to have in the far reaches of kitchen cabinets? How much is that beloved family dish really worth to someone not in your family?

4. What charity is going to send a truck to pick up everything that doesn't sell? How many trips do you want to make to the dump or how many months of storage fees at a U Rent It place would you agree to? How much time do you want to devote dragging things back and forth to flea markets?

5. You need a few people to help with garage sales - someone to watch the cash box, and one or two more to see that items don't simply walk away while you're distracted.

I'm not heartless when it comes to the disposal of other's things; but I've never had to do it while the owner was still living so that sense of "violation" never came into play. But since the responsibility of having to do these things fell to me and my brother on a couple of occasions, doing what was easiest and most expedient for us was the most basic consideration.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 7:12PM
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OP here,
Hi and thanks for all the advice:
Here is where we stand so far....

Mom completely understands that I have done much to assist her and appreciates entirely my declining this project.

She and the niece went over to brother's last Sunday (and apparently so again today) to get organized. Plus she wanted to bring back to the senior apartment some personal stuff.

Apparently the niece is in for the work, and my brother hasn't called me at all about it. Mom thinks she can help the niece... put on price tags, be there for the sales...she is not helpless, after all, just needs some help.

Just WHEN the big sales will occur is beyond me, again, I've been excused by the matriarch with a loving "you've done and DO enough, dear!"

I did suggest to Mom that when whatever stuff doesn't sell, the niece will of course, have to dispose of it. So, I'm off of this project!

I'm still taking Mom to some new doctors...they want her to see a neurologist now, but the heart doctor says she's stable, in his book.

That's where it assured, I'll be back if stuff creeps up again and I'm summoned to get involved again...hopefully, this will work for all parties, my Mom, my niece and me!!!

Thanks for all your care, everyone!!!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 5:22PM
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Try to get rid of (give away) anything that doesn't sell. The interested party is responsible for picking up the free item(s). Goodwill is a good choice, too.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 3:39PM
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