Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Senior Couple Downsizng

Downsizing – simplifying, organizing and getting rid of clutter – can improve quality of life at any age. For seniors, it can be especially beneficial. See the tips below for seniors who are considering downsizing. This guest post is from community outreach manager Daniel LoFaso of Lourdes McKeen, a retirement and independent living facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. 

Downsizing can be helpful for seniors, creating less stress and fewer responsibilities during a time when it may be most beneficial. There are many ways to downsize various areas of your life, from cleaning out a house to getting finances in order. Some practical ways for seniors to downsize include the following suggestions:

Clear away the clutter

Seniors can make a proactive move in their downsizing efforts by getting rid of clutter now. This includes the items that you are planning to give to others, such as cherished keepsakes and family heirlooms which typically are belongings that might get saved over the course of time. When cleaning out the house, you may consider starting a “posterity box,” which is intended for these items, and giving them to relatives or friends now in order to help downsize and make a positive step toward simpler living.

Consider communal living

When you are truly ready to downsize, consider moving into a communal living situation. This doesn’t mean that seniors have to move in with family or friends, but rather it might be pragmatic to consider relocating to a like-minded community. Many of these living situations, such as senior living communities, offer step-down living facilities that make planning for the future easier and more secure.

Some communities may offer independent living for seniors who desire the ability to come and go as they desire, while others may offer assisted living or skilled nursing (or a combination of all three) in the event that residents need more comprehensive care. Many may offer subsidized housing for those seniors with limited resources, too.

Examine your finances

It pays to spend some money to gain insight and information related to financial downsizing. Invest in legal representation with expertise in elder law, probate, and estate planning to make important decisions about your finances and investments. This may include setting up trusts, making charitable contributions, making long term care (LTC) considerations, and preparing a will.

Warm up to the idea of moving South

There is a reason why seniors flock to Florida once retired; the warm weather is a pleasant reprieve for many but it may also reduce the cost of living for many that are accustomed to colder climates and higher energy costs. Florida, in particular, has a lot to offer seniors and many areas are known as retirement communities. These regions might be the perfect reprieve for aging consumers looking to downsize and make life simpler. It also doesn’t hurt that Florida doesn’t have state income tax, making your retirement dollars go farther.

Do you really want to drive?

If you enjoy driving or plan on using your vehicle during retirement, then by all means, do so. However, extra vehicles equate to extra costs and burdens. Where will you park? Have your insurance rates recently risen? Consider, instead, using public transportation or other means in lieu of the costs and commitments of owning or operating a vehicle. Some senior communities may offer shuttles to get residents where they need to go.

Donating is a great way to downsize

Downsize your life by donating goods, belongings, or resources to a worthy charity of your choice. This has the advantage of helping others that may be less fortunate, while also providing a helpful tax break for those that request documentation of the donation. Ask for a receipt of the transaction and use online calculators to figure out the tax break when completing your return.

The benefits to you and your family

Downsizing has many benefits, particularly for seniors: Taking care of important matters now will make planning for the future easier, while ensuring your loved ones aren’t left making decisions on your behalf. Talk with your legal expert to determine the best approach to fulfilling your final wishes and naming someone to have power of attorney over your affairs, should the time come that warrants this appointment. Be sure to complete a living will to ensure that your wishes are met and that there are no questions later regarding your care or treatment. Keep a copy with your insurance information, financial papers, and other important documents.

There are many ways to look at downsizing and it can make life a lot simpler and relaxed, particularly if you are a senior. Consider your living situation and how this may be contributing to your burdens; does it make sense to move?

Be sure to talk with a legal expert to determine how to best plan and address your finances to keep life simple but funded. Prepare documents now to ensure your final wishes are laid out and that there are no questions regarding your finances, care, and treatment when the time comes to make these tough decisions.

Downsizing now can provide a sense of security that makes retirement and aging a lot less worrisome, and that can help to make it a time to relax and enjoy the things that bring personal joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment.