Downsizing Takes a Different Kind of a Team - and a Nudge

A Client Story

Donna and Patrick were in a bind.  Patrick had recently been diagnosed with a mass in his brain which was causing impaired judgment.  As far as he was concerned he was still gainfully employed.  Even though he was going to his office, he was not bringing in any money.  Three months later his firm asked him to move out of their offices.  Donna and Patrick were living on his Social Security which did not begin to pay the maintenance on their apartment, let alone other expenses.

Patrick had spent their assets on a beautiful rare book collection.  Donna had just taken over the finances and was traumatized by what she found: outstanding bills due to book dealers and the clubs to which they belonged, large credit card debts, and many bounced checks.  Their children became extremely worried and convinced Donna and Patrick to hire Eddy & Schein.  The children had outlined the work to be done:  Rebecca would help Donna learn to use Quicken to track their spending, organize their files so that Donna would know what insurance policies they had, get a handle on their medical insurance, pay off their creditors, sell the books, move to a smaller apartment with lower maintenance fees, and sell many of their antiques and objets d’art.  Rebecca researched auction houses for the antiques and books, realtors for the sale of the current apartment and purchase of the new apartment, and professional organizers to help with the downsizing.  Rebecca also helped create a cost basis spreadsheet of books being sold and gave guidance in the purging of old files.

Rebecca’s most important job was as cheerleader and nudge.  Donna, who had successfully helped several family members make big, complicated moves, was paralyzed when it came to moving out of her own home.  During sessions, Rebecca’s presence and nudging enabled Donna to call competing auction houses, realtors and professional organizers to set dates for interviews.  In between Rebecca’s visits, Donna shredded old files, sold dishes and other items on E-Bay with the help of an acquaintance, took clothes to a local thrift shop, hauled low-value books to a bookstore to sell, and kept the appointments she had set during the phone calls.

Six months after Rebecca began working with them, Donna and Patrick’s books were featured in an auction which gave them the money that enabled them to pay off remaining debts and pay the expense associated with downsizing.  It was tempting to stay in their home of 40 years, but the funds raised would only have lasted a few years.  Rebecca nudged, nudged, nudged and Donna moved forward, even with Patrick resisting every step of the way.  The contracts were signed with the realtor, the auction house for the sale of furniture and other valuables, and the professional organizer (who helped with hiring the moving company).

Rebecca became a resource for the hired professionals when Donna was throwing up obstacles.  As a result of the teamwork, Donna and Patrick have moved from a home of 12 rooms to six.  Even though it took a full year and a half after Rebecca’s initial visit, they successfully sold their apartment before the market dropped, so they have a good nest egg.  Their antiques and additional books were also sold, bringing in more cash.  We are thrilled to report that they both are extremely happy in their new home: they love the space, the building, and the neighborhood with its restaurants.

November 2008 - FEATURE
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