Create a Housing & Estate Strategy for Aging Parents and other Senior Citizens

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor

by Ed Kunkel, Jr., Realtor® and US Military Veteran

It has been made clear to me from knowledge and experience that we as professionals do not place enough emphasis on the care and well-being of our senior community members.  Last year, I partnered with another Realtor® who carries the same belief that more needs to be done locally in the community that we serve in when it comes to helping the Baby Boomer generation with their needs.

We get involved with seniors through networking groups, sponsoring open houses in senior communities, and helping with referrals of quality professionals that are best suited to cater to the needs of seniors.

This article only scratches the surface of what steps you and your senior loved one should be considering next in life, and the most important nugget of information I hope you take from this article is to make sure the people you hire fit the part of the best option to help the senior client.

Estate planning

Whether we realize it or not, there is a default plan for our estate.  It is estimated that just over a third of us have a will, and less than half of us have planned our estate.  When we die intestate, the courts decide the destiny of what we leave behind, regardless of what our wishes may have been.  Your demise may be a less than favorable subject to talk about, but it’s a guarantee that it will happen.  Take the time to not only designate and talk with an estate planner, but reevaluate your estate planning needs periodically over time.  Your needs and concerns change, so should your plan.  An estate planner can help you with the following:

  • Should you have a Life Estate or a Will?
  • How will your care be handled if you become disabled before you die?
  • Who will you designate as a guardian for your children, and should that same person or persons manage their inheritance for them?
  • Should you have Life Insurance, and how much?
  • Who will you transfer your business to at retirement, disability or death?
  • Should you park all of your assets in a trust?

Statistically, too many people don’t plan ahead as the topic leaves much to be desired.  What’s worse is what happens when complete strangers in the courts decide the fate of your effects you leave behind.  Making time to plan your estate for you and your loved ones will make your demise a less challenging task, and will better ensure that you are taking care of the people you leave behind the way you want to.


Got stuff?  It is very common for seniors to have accumulated a great deal of personal possessions over their lifetime, with no real plan on how to keep it all organized or how to go about downsizing.  This environment of an accumulation of personal items around the home, coupled with a decreasing physical capability could end up being a big problem, particularly for seniors that live alone.  It could be something as simple as an item being stored in a closet shelf that is too heavy to bring down, but the individual attempts to do so anyway.  Or, there’s an accumulation of stuff in and around pathways that are now tripping hazards.

Consider hiring an organizer or de-cluttering expert.  A professional organizer can help bring the function and safety back to an otherwise cluttered home, and may offer a fresh perspective to a reluctant senior client.  They can also help with downsizing and staging for when it’s time to sell the home.

Use an agent that has experience with seniors

If it’s time to sell the home, use an agent that is experienced with helping seniors.  What does this mean?  Do they have referral sources that are particularly helpful for seniors, such as repair contractors, plumbers, electricians, organizers and movers?  Are they familiar with options for senior communities such as 55+ communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes?  Ask for a referral from a senior network or the staff of the community you are moving to.

Senior networks can help

Are there any senior networks in your community?  These networks can be very helpful, as the network provides accountability for quality vendors that cater to seniors, and can be resourceful in many other ways.  If you don’t know where to look to find an active senior network, a good place to start would be through the local chamber of commerce.

If you’re looking for help, or a specific type of referral for a senior living in Western Washington, please call or email me, I can help!  (360) 789-4708.

Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.