Why Hiring a Downsizing Expert is a Smart Investment.


Written by: Vanessa Benedict, Portfolio Manager

My client, we’ll call her Claudia, loved renovating her luxurious, custom-built home. For many years I’d meet with her every six months or so and each time I’d visit, she’d have a stylish new project to show to me. She and her husband had lived there since the day they got married over 50 years ago. Each room held vivid memories and precious moments spent together as a couple and as a family.

After her husband passed, Claudia made it clear that she had every intention of staying in her home. One ordinary day, Claudia lost her footing and took a bad fall landing hard on the kitchen tile floor. Her family was afraid for her to stay in that big house all by herself. After fighting the inevitable for a few years, she finally agreed that moving was in her best interest.

I suggested that she hire a person that specializes in downsizing, explaining that while it might seem like a large upfront cost, those costs would be recovered from the sale of the home. She was hesitant and ran it past her family. They decided that hiring an organizer to downsize was a waste of money. While they had no problem paying $300 a month for a cleaning service for 10 years, they simply could not see the value in paying for a downsizing service.

Claudia’s family decided they would downsize her home themselves and she soon found herself overwhelmed. They had no process, no experience and no idea where to start and things took an ugly turn. Her home was in chaos, her relatives were no longer speaking to each other, her belongings were given away and thrown out without regard to value, emotional or otherwise. The stress soon made Claudia very ill. She told me that the only thing that was organized was her portfolio but given the situation with her family, that didn’t give her much comfort. It was never about the money for Claudia.

Once she moved and the last of her belongings were unpacked, Claudia did not feel at home. The little things that would have given her comfort had been thrown out. Her relatives didn’t do it maliciously. They simply did not have the expertise needed to do things properly. Claudia acknowledged then that she wished she had hired a professional that specializes in downsizing, that if she had, things would have been different.

Sadly, my dear client Claudia passed away a month after moving. The news shocked me to my core. I am dedicating this newsletter to her, may she rest in peace. Because of her when I am in planning discussions with my clients, I strongly urge them to include the cost of a professional organizer who specializes in downsizing in their budget.

As a portfolio manager and Investment advisor, one of my tasks, is to take the money my clients have worked so hard to save and create an income stream for them, like a pension. However, part of my role is to also help clients transition from one stage of life to another and to ultimately retire well.

Building portfolios for 20 years now, I have learned that my long-time clients find the financial aspect of the planning process easy. What they don’t find so easy is coping with the challenges and limitations that come with ageing.

No one wants to be a burden to their family – that is the most common concern for my clients. They want to remain independent and would prefer to live in their own homes as long as possible. As that get’s harder, they engage the services of house cleaners, lawn and garden maintenance, and services to drive them to and from the grocery store and appointments.

At a certain point, moving to a smaller, easier to manage home or retirement home to have access to regular specialized care and support is a must. This move is the hardest of all because it’s not just another move. It’s letting go of a way of living. It’s letting go of a lifetime of things that have meaning.

Should you or your loved ones be making this late in life transition, I urge you to bring in the experts who are trained to handle your worldly possessions with the appropriate care and consideration.

Vanessa Benedict, Investment Advisor and Portfolio Managaer, National Bank of Canada, Oshawa

Silver Birch Wealth Management


About Vanessa Benedict:

Vanessa specializes in providing insightful investment advice, tax-efficient strategies and personalized client care. Vanessa Benedict is a Portfolio Manager and Investment Advisor with over 22 years of experience serving high net worth investors and their families. She has been with National Bank Financial for two and a half years. Within that time she became a partner at SilverBirch Wealth Management. Prior to that time Vanessa spent 16 wonderful years with ScotiaMcleod. She started her financial career at Manulife Financial providing pension support to small to mid-size US companies. Vanessa graduated from Queen’s University earning a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Life Sciences and a Minor Degree in Psychology.

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