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What to Do with Mom’s Things


"My mother moved into assisted living three months ago, and I am struggling to decide what to do with her things. Her dementia is fairly progressed at this point, so she is not someone I can discuss this with. Mother has a house full of items with no plan. She does not have a Power of Attorney (POA).

The will leaves everything 50/50 to my estranged sister and I. I have no interest in my mother’s things. She does not need the items to help pay for her care, as money is not an issue. I need to store, sell, or dispose of her possessions at some point. What do you think I should do?"


First, I think you need to contact your sister. You say she is estranged, and that may be so, but you may be surprised how many people reappear when there is an inheritance to collect. While your mother may never need her possessions to pay for her care, that very statement leads me to believe that she may have possessions that have some value.

In your case, you need to contact your mother’s lawyer before you start selling, taking, disposing of or doing otherwise with your mother’s things. I suggest this because your mother is already unable to make these decisions for herself. How your mother was placed in assisted living and deteriorated so quickly with no appointed POA is beyond me, but unusual things do happen. Someone must be handling her finances at this point because she is likely not doing it.

So first get your legal house in order, then you can move on to managing Mother’s items.

Now let ’s discuss Mom’s possessions. You may find it difficult to give away or sell items. If you are able to connect with your sister, it is important to find out if she has any wishes surrounding your mother’s things.  If she does not and will not have anything to do with it, take heart. There are organizations that will handle everything for you, for a cut of the sales. It is not necessary for you to handle each item personally if you do not want to. Before you do that, I strongly recommend that you take a week or two to go through everything in her apartment, removing valuables and items of sentiment. Once the items are gone, it will be too late to get them back. Save a few things of Mother’s for yourself and maybe your children. Sometimes the stories surrounding those items are too valuable to lose.

I wish you the best.


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