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My parents' home
Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 1:03 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105

I'm just wondering how some of you may feel if you've had this situation.


My parents loved their home, took very good care of it.  My mom is gone, my father passed away 10 months ago.  It's just my sibling and I now.  The home has been empty for two years.


I lived in the home for 9 years of my life, sibling did not.  I feel a connection to the home, it was the first real house I ever lived in.


What to do with the house?  My sibling wants to sell it, sibling is the executor, there are no debts left for my parents. 


I feel a very strong emotional attachment to the home, knowing how much my parents loved it and when alive, they would always say, "this is your home, too, don't sell it."


I'm not in a position to buy my sibling's share.  I waiver between going ahead and selling it and splitting the profit and moving on with life.  But that feels like benefiting from their death, doesn't just feel like it, it is,  and that doesn't sit well with me.  The other option is trying to come up with the money to buy out sibling and I don't see a way to do that, with an existing mortgage of my own.  The neighborhood isn't as nice as it once was.  There are front stairs and back stairs and planning ahead, they would become as difficult to maneuver for my husband and I as they had become for my parents.


My daughter says it should stay in the family.  She's saving for a place of her own, but wouldn't want to live in my parents' home, would consider the purchase as an investment and would rent it out.  If we did sell it and split the profit, I would use my share to pay off my existing mortgage and purchase a place with no stairs, my current home, a condo has two flights of stairs and either way I go, I'm going to need a place with no stairs.  I'm trying to plan for my future and put myself in a position not to be a financial burden to anyone.  It's hard to explain this to my daughter, I'm not rubbing my hands together greedy for more money, but it would be great not to have to deal with stairs in older age, have enough savings to take me through paying for my own care some day and having something left over to pass on to my daughter and be in a position to help her out financially should she need it.  All of that without trying to feel like I'm betraying my parents' wishes.  My parents' always felt the savings should go to my sister and the home to me, but they never imagined  their savings would be depleted to cover their care costs and the value of their home would go up.  Their living trust was set up to just split 50/50 as it should have been.  My dad would repeat over and over to take the house and give my sibling the savings, he just didn't understand any longer the arrangement that he and my mother had made, he didn't understand how much we were paying for his care facility and he didn't imagine the value of his home increased over time.   What's left is their home to pass on to their two children, one doesn't feel bad about selling it, one does feel bad about selling it and letting go of parents beloved home.


I guess I feel like my daughter also thinks I'm jumping on the getting the cash band wagon.   I don't want her to think of me that way.


It's just difficult and it really is weighing on me very much, the letting go of this, knowing how my parents felt, feeling like I'm benefitting from their death and that feeling wrong, but not in much of a position to realistically keep the home.


Would it be great to have extra funds, sure it would, does it make me feel awful from benefitting from their deaths, yes.  I don't quite know how to sort through these feelings.  And add in the opinions of my daughter and it becomes even more disturbing to me.


The thought of the last symbol, the last standing piece of my parents going away, is very, very hard and my family doesn't seem to realize how hard this is for me. 


I just don't know how to feel about all of this and reconcile it in my mind.  I just don't know and I want to stop with the going back and forth feelings.


So I guess I just want to know what others have done and have felt about similar experiences and how you've dealt with the feelings.


I apologize, I know I'm rambling.  It's my conflicting feelings and the struggle with that.  We just did my dad's taxes, the last ones and seeing deceased on the screen just set me off.  The next thing to tackle is their home and I just dread this so much, it feels like giving them up and away and it's hard to let go.  


I wish my parents had spent every last dime on themselves.  It would have made it easier than having these awful decisions left after a loss. 

Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 4:27 PM
Joined: 12/18/2011
Posts: 3097

I think the stairs issue IS important.  What you are doing is looking into the future and trying to accommodate for that NOW, which any child would be thankful for.

You could try the old pros and cons lists, but what stands out to me about your dilemma is you need a barrier-free home in the future and not only your condo but your parents' house doesn't fit that need.

This has less to do with money and more to do with you trying to be proactive and plan for old age and your daughter should be understanding of that.  What all of us would have given for our parents to have planned!

Well-maintained homes begin to have problems again, iffy neighborhoods deteriorate much of the time, and I think it might benefit you more to sell the house because it will enable you to pay off your current mortgage now, free up money for savings and then the condo can be sold to purchase a totally barrier-free home.



Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 6:08 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 726

Oh, KML -- So many things ran through my mind when I read your post.  I'll try to put my thoughts into words.  First, there are no right answers and everyone's situation is different, so take what I say with a grain of salt.


My parents' house is still empty after almost 4 years.  They passed away almost a year ago.  It is just me and my sibling.  Neither of us lived in the house.  My parents moved there in retirement.  Still, it has taken us years to clean it out.  Our parents' whole lives were in every inch of that house.  My sibling wanted to keep it, but then, came to the conclusion, as I had, that it wasn't practical.  The bills still need to be paid, and there is always maintenance.  An empty house is a worry. When the estate is finalized in the next few months, we will put it on the market.  I think I am finally ready.  I think it will be a relief, but sad.  It means we are moving on with our lives without our parents.  


Even though we have cleaned out their personal things and items that we want to keep, it still feels like them.  I can still imagine them walking through the door or sitting in a chair.  I'm crying as I write this.  That's what I don't want to give up -- the memories of my kids with their grandparents in that house.  But I still have those memories even though we won't have the house.


I guess what I am saying is that I think you should sell the house.  It's a tough step to take, but it makes the most sense.  An empty house will deteriorate and cost money. Then you have the ownership issues.  If you and your sibling own the house together, who pays for what and who is responsible for what?  It can become very sticky.  


I understand when you say you don't want to profit from your parents' deaths.  I feel the same way.  I am uncomfortable with the fact that they left me and my sibling with anything, but I think it would have made them happy.  


KML -- Your parents loved the house, but did you love the house?  Do you want to hold onto the house because of your memories of them there? You will always remember them and love them.  You don't need their house in order to love and remember them.  If it isn't the right house for you now or down the road, then are you keeping it for other reasons?  You want that connection to them and to your life as it used to be.  I get that.  I want that too, but our lives have changed.  I'm not happy about that, but it's the way it is.  I wish nothing had to change, but it did.  I wish my parents were still with me, but they aren't.  I am also thankful that I didn't have to sell their house while they were alive to pay for their care.  Now it is time for me to break that last tie.  It hurts.


Sorry for the rambling.  Good luck to you whatever you decide.  Hugs.



King Boo
Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 9:14 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3521

Hello KML-

Such sadness, to see the empty home your parents once lived in, loved in. . .now empty.  The thought of saying goodbye to the home is yet another loss looming, and very painful indeed.  How can it be, something so important to your parents?  But, yet, it must.


I've cleaned out my parents home, and the home of a deceased aunt, and the great grief attached to both actions was hard to bear.  But the practical reality brought me through, and the sale of the home was another step to healing, painful though it was.


A little while later, I realized it was the people who made the house.  And the people weren't there any more.


Even if you had the money to buy your sister's share of the home, you would be buying youself a huge headache.  Maintaining 2 properties is expensive and a headache.     Then, there is the liability of the second property.  Even the scenario as a rental is probably not a great idea as the neighborhood is deteriorating.  You will loose property value and own a home you can't use.


As to Mom and Dads wishes. . .well, they were from another time and place.

Allthough sister does not have the emotional attachment, selling the home is what the executor must do after offering right of first refusal to family if indicated.


As to benefiting financially from it, don't you think Mom and Dad would be pleased to know you were able to secure a safe living environment for yourself because of it, rather than holding onto old words and landing yourself in an iffy neighborhood and dealing with steps?  I know it was contrary to their words, but it sounds like it has to be.  Life must be lived for the now.  But it does hurt, I know.



Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 10:10 PM
Joined: 4/19/2012
Posts: 414

My parents bought their house because I was being born, that was nearly 60 yrs. ago. I've known that house my entire life. And now it is sold to a young couple. I felt that the house needed a breath of fresh air, ie a young couple.


I have to agree with everyone else, being practical would make your parents proud of you. They would understand. Stairs are a big no no for us, and the elders. How I wish my parents had moved so mom didn't have to struggle up the stairs just to go to bed.


It is painful, no way around it, just have to get through it, like all the grief we have had to go through since their death. As you must know, it does ease with time, and it can rear up again momentarily too.


You know the answer, but I hear your pain too.




Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 11:07 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105

Thank you, all, for your responses, for your kindness and common sense.  I love you all for unwavering strength and abundance of compassion while dealing with your own sadness.
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 11:33 AM
Joined: 3/11/2012
Posts: 433

My parents moved to the home where Dad now lives in 1987. I was devastated that they were leaving "my house" , the house where I grew up, to buy this new home. But eventually I was glad they did because Mom loved her new house so much and it came to be her home as much as the other house was. She raised her kids in the first house and saw her grandkids grow up in the new house. Each one held special memories of their own.


Now when I think of selling that house it does make me sad. I know that Mom was so excited about buying that house. She loved it and she loved living there. I know that when we do sell the house the money will be divided between me and my 3 brothers. I really don't think of profiting from my parents' deaths. That's what they would want for us. That's what I would want for my girls. What's ours is theirs and it's my hope that we have something left for them in addition to the house. My father-in-law was an alcoholic. He left this world broke with a huge amount of debt. So it was up to my husband to clean up his mess. So I vowed that we would not leave our daughters with a nightmare like that.


I think your parents would want you to do whatever makes you happy and whatever fits your needs. My Mom would tell me to do what I see best. And I think you know in this situation it's to not move into a house with a deteriorating neighborhood (which my childhood home is in a neighborhood like that now too) or to stay in a home with stairs when you have the opportunity to plan for the future with a home that will better suit your needs.


I wish you luck with your decision. I know it's not an easy one to make. Trust your heart. It will lead you to the right answer.



Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 12:03 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105

Thanks, Oceanbum, your response and everyone's is what I needed to hear.  It's easy for me to lose perspective.  So, you've all helped me a great deal with this.  I guess I'm wanting to avoid the pain of it, and there's no avoiding, there's just going through it and getting to the other side.
dj okay
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 6:49 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 1840

Dear KML,


This issue brings up so many emotions.  I can understand what you are going through in trying to come to a decision on this matter.


I didn't have a choice.  My mom and dad weren't great planners and were not financially stable at most times in their lives.  So when my dad passed away and it became clear that Mom was going to need long-term care, along with the fact that their home was in Alabama and my brother and I were both in Michigan, we HAD to sell the house because we needed the money to provide for Mom's care.


That being said, it was very sad.  I can still remember when my brother and I left after having the estate sale and cleaning out the house.  I stood in the driveway and inhaled deeply...I could smell the pines that grew along the back lot-line.  I was ready to totally break down, and my brother stopped me and said "not now".  So I sucked it up and we left.  Although I never lived in the house and he had lived there 6 years before he married, I felt so much of my parents personalities and their love of the land.  It was very hard.


But practical matters do mean a lot.  I think your parents would want you to do what is right for you now, not what they may have wanted for you.  The sentamentality of a home means a lot to all of us, but in the end, it is just a house.  What means so much more to me are the things that made a home, the embroderies, the silverware, the quilts, the pictures.  If you were to take those THINGS and put them in another setting, wouldn't it be close to home?


I just wanted to let you know that I hear you.  I feel the pain of trying to come to this decision.  Just don't feel you are letting your parents down when you are doing the responsible, adult thing.


Those adult know...they bind at times, don't they?

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:01 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105



Thank you, you're right, those adult panties are dang uncomfortable.  This is another chapter of the loss, and I'll make it through the whole thing.  Nothing about it is easy, but something you have to go through and I will like everything else I've done.


We lived in a really bad neighborhood when I was growing up.  We had to move because redevelopment agency was taking over and knocking down all the residences to rebuild.  My friends were not allowed to come over because the neighborhood was so bad. 


So my parents borrowed a down payment from my uncle and we bought a home in a much nicer neighborhood.  My parents paid off my uncle and it was like heaven to me living there.  For the first time in my life, I was able to walk outside alone without fear of being jumped in the neighborhood, as I was in our old neighborhood.  For the first time in my life, we had a garden and I was so excited I slept out in the garden in my sleeping bag the night we moved in. 


My dad always tinkered around and now he had a big beautiful garage and built all kinds of things.  The house became my mother's palace.  The garden was her's and she grew her beautiful sweetpeas and pansies and then there are the wonderful Meyers lemon trees.


So it is hard and I want to hang on to all of it, but it just simply can't be.  It's very hard not to be able to share these feelings with my sibling and even though my husband is sympathetic, he didn't live my life and doesn't quite understand the deep attachment.


I know I will be a mess the day it's emptied and sold, but I've been through a lot of messes in my life and I will get through this one, too.


Thank you all, again.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 4:13 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 726

It sounds wonderful -- I love sweetpeas. We understand how hard and sad it is.  Sending you some big hugs...
Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 6:40 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 3720



My parents lived in the daughter part of our house, but I had their furniture and belongings to deal with.  At first I wanted to keep everything.  It is hard giving up reminders of your parents.  Yet, it time I've given away most of the stuff. 


I realize the best part is the memories of them that I am left with.


Your parents would be happy for you if you make a decision that is best for you.





dj okay
Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 8:07 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 1840

I totally understand the garden part.  My parents were huge gardeners, having grown up on farms, so it was really in their blood.  That was the hardest part of leaving the house.  The home itself was nice enough, but they had poured their sweat and blood into a huge garden, a blueberry patch that was unbelievable, three huge grape arbors, and fruit trees.  Plus my mother had a lovely flower garden along the driveway from the house to the road.  I did get the cast iron kettle that my dad had mounted on an old wagon wheel rim.  It sits in the middle of my garden and I put annuals in it every year.  So it's my little part of their garden.


It just breaks my heart to go by the house now.  The folks that bought it fixed the inside up really nice, but they aren't outdoor people and the gardens and landscape are just so overgrown.  It would devastate my mother if she were to see it now.    I'm just down there once a year or so and it gets worse every time.  Sigh!


Nothing stays the same forever huh?

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 9:37 PM
Joined: 10/27/2012
Posts: 362

As a  Navy wife with 26 years in the service, I have a slightly different perspective. moving 13 times taught me that your house is the building in which you live. Yes, there may be memories and possessions. However, home is who you love. My mom and dad lived miles and sometimes countries away but they were home to me.  I felt twinges when we had to sell mom's house, yes. Still, if you  do not intend to live there and you so not have the skills or the desire to be a landlord, your only option is to sell. Take pictures, have a painting done, take cuttings from the gardens or anything that will give you a small piece of your home to keep and honor the memory. Then do what you have to do. Oh, and whatever your legacy, your parents gifted it to you in love so no guilt! 

Hope this is