SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

July 29, 2013

Dear Abby: Grandmother’s empty house needs family’s full attention

:Dear Abby: My grandmother made the decision to move to an assisted-living facility two years ago. She left most of her belongings in her farmhouse, which has sat empty since then. Her health is fine, so she should be around for many years. It has already been decided that my dad will inherit the house, but he doesn’t want to live there anytime soon because of the location. (It’s way out in the country.)

I’m afraid the house is going to become unlivable if it sits for years without utilities or anyone taking care of it. Dad mows the grass, but that’s about it, and all of Grandma’s belongings are collecting dead flies. Nobody seems to care but me. Dad has three siblings, and between them, there are nine grandchildren. How do I get my family to take care of Grandma’s house?

:Conscientious In Kansas City, Kan.

:Dear Conscientious: Your father may be inheriting the house, but is he also inheriting all of the contents? If the answer is no, there should be a family discussion about the disposition of the furniture, clothing, linens and any possible heirloom items.

I agree with you that nothing good can happen to the house if no one is paying attention. It’s an invitation to theft or vandalism. The house should be cleaned and dusted. The furniture should be covered with sheets to keep it as free of dust as possible. Someone should check the place at least once a month.

If no one else in the family is willing to step up to the plate and help out, because you are conscientious, it looks like you’re elected. If it’s too much for you, perhaps a caretaker could be hired to watch over, or possibly live in, the house.

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