Rule #1 of senior caregiver support: Take care of yourself!

Do you find yourself in the position of caregiver, perhaps providing support for a senior in your life? Whether it’s a parent, close friend, neighbor or family member, senior caregiver support is a subject that should be taken quite seriously. And the most important thing caregivers need to remember, is self-care.

Caregivers are very giving people who may work many hours a day, often on top of their regular jobs and other day-to-day responsibilities. If you are a caregiver, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you eating properly? Fast food might be easier, but too much of it is not healthy.
  • Are you getting adequate rest? Depriving yourself of sleep is not good for you or the individual you are assisting.
  • Are you staying active, both mentally and physically? In other words, don’t let your caregiver routine take over your life.
  • Senior caregiver support tips
  • Take time to recharge your batteries. There are local organizations that provide respite care for caregivers. Take advantage of those services, or ask a friend or relative to take over, even if it’s just for a day or a few hours.
  • Stay socially connected. Don’t sacrifice your friendships and activities to devote yourself 100 percent to someone else’s life. You need to live, too, and doing the things you enjoy will also help to relieve stress.
  • Ask for help. There are numerous support groups for caregivers, so take advantage of them either in-person or online. You are not alone!

Learn more about support services available to caregivers through Erie County Senior Services.

Your roadmap to buying a starter home

Your roadmap to buying a starter home

Sooner or later, we all reach that point in time when we’re ready to take that big step known as homeownership, and that likely means buying a starter home. But what is your ideal starter home? Is it, perhaps, a condo or a townhouse? Or is it a smaller home that’s the perfect size for a small family, or maybe one that needs a little work but carries an affordable price tag?

Whatever your situation, a starter house might be a wise move until you can afford the house of your dreams.

Buying a starter home

  • In general, the average stay in a starter home is approximately five years, give or take.
  • Your starter home might be located in the suburbs, while your future “forever” home is closer to the action of a big city. Are you ready for the longer commute while you save for your future?
  • Be honest about how much house you can currently afford. If you’re looking at the numbers and they just don’t add up, a starter home is probably the better option until you can improve your financial situation. Make a commitment to saving for that “forever” home.

If you ultimately make the decision to go with a starter home, be sure to get a good home inspection, and then accompany your home inspector during the walk-through and take thorough notes. If something is amiss with the house, the home inspector can bring it to your attention before you sign on the dotted line. Your Realtor can ask for the repair to be made by the current homeowner prior to the sale taking place.

Renovations and repairs come with any home, so get to know the difference between routine and expensive maintenance and makeovers. Your home inspector or Realtor should be able to answer any questions that you have.

Buying a starter home, or a “forever” home, is a major step in one’s life. Therefore, surround yourself with knowledgeable people who can make your transition to homeowner as seamless as possible. For more information, please contact The Olear Team today!

Examining the estate executor checklist

Examining the estate executor checklist

Serving as the executor of an estate should be consider both an honor and a privilege. It also requires a significant amount of work proportionate to the size of the estate left behind. Following is an estate executor checklist that we’ve compiled to help you accomplish your task, from examining the will to closing the estate.

Estate Executor Checklist

  • If you have been named executor in someone’s will, the first thing you’ll want to do is obtain a copy of the will and gain an understanding of the details within the document. Then…
  • File a petition with the probate court where the deceased individual resided.
  • Make the decision to consult with an estate attorney, or prepare to move on without an attorney. There are other places to turn for advice and guidance: An experienced Realtor, the probate court clerk, estate liquidation companies, the internet, etc.
  • File the will in probate court, and notify any beneficiaries named in the will. 
  • One of your largest tasks will be to locate, secure and manage all assets of the deceased. This includes everything from personal property (vehicles, jewelry, furniture, collections, etc.) to real estate to financial assets such as bank accounts, pensions, life insurance, etc.
  • There will be no shortage of minor details to handle, such as contacting banks, government agencies, credit card and utility companies, doctors and more. 
  • Next, you’ll want to open a bank account for the estate to hold any incoming money and pay any outstanding bills and taxes.
  • Once all financial matters are in order, you can receive permission from the probate court to distribute any property as defined in the will.
  • When all accounts have been settled and property has been distributed, the executor can ask the probate court to officially close the estate.

While there are many other items that will require your attention along the way, this estate executor checklist will serve as a basic guideline for the responsibilities that you are about to take on. For more information or assistance, please contact The Olear Team today!

How much money do I need to buy a house?

How much money do I need to buy a house?

The house hunt is on! You’ve narrowed down your search to a couple of neighborhoods and have started visiting open house events to make comparisons. Now it’s time to get serious by asking yourself a very serious question: How much money do I need to buy a house?

What you can afford is based on a number of factors, most importantly a steady income and knowing your expenses. When putting pen to paper, consider home ownership expenses such as a down payment, closing and moving costs, repairs and maintenance, your monthly mortgage payment and, of course, utilities. Your mortgage lender or financial adviser can provide more details and guidance for your specific situation. 

How much money do I need to buy a house? Let’s take a look!

  • A home inspection will typically cost anywhere from $300 to $600. This is an important step in purchasing a house and could, potentially, save you much more down the road by spotting repair and maintenance issues that you may have overlooked.
  • Your bank will require a home appraisal, which is a professional’s estimate of the home’s value. This will likely cost in the $300 to $500 range.
  • A down payment will set you back up to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home, depending on the type of mortgage you select. An FHA loan, for example, requires a much smaller down payment amount if you are eligible. Consult your Realtor or mortgage lender to review your options. Keep in mind that a larger downpayment will result in smaller mortgage payments.
  • These are many fees that make up the closing costs, which typically run from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Closing fees include items such as homeowner’s insurance, lender fees, private mortgage insurance (PMI), title insurance, recording fees, property taxes and more.
  • Don’t forget about moving costs. This is when having a large family or lots of friends can come in handy!
  • Once the home is yours, you will be responsible for making your monthly mortgage payments. This amount will not be a surprise. Your mortgage lender will provide such details before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Remember to budget for your utility costs: Gas, electric, water, internet/cable television, telephone, etc. Some of these payments are fixed when you sign a contact for service, while others will vary from month to month and season to season.
  • As a homeowner, you will also be responsible for repairs and maintenance to the home. Therefore, make sure there’s a little extra in your savings account for both the routine and the unexpected.
  • Finally, don’t forget that you still need to eat, purchase groceries and household items, and put gas in your car, and you’ll want to have some additional funds in reserve for entertainment, gift giving, vacations, etc.

As you can see, there are a lot of variables when answering the question of how much money do I need to buy a house. For more information and answers to any questions you may have, please contact The Olear Team today!


How to become executor of estate

The subject of how to become executor of estate comes up quite frequently in our real estate circles. The following bullet points of information should provide some practical advice if you find yourself asking — or being asked — that question.

How to become executor of estate

  • Every state has its own set of probate laws regarding who can qualify to serve as executor of estate. Age, criminal convictions and residency are factors that will often come into play here. An experienced estate attorney can provide professional guidance.
  • The executor or administrator is officially appointed by the Surrogate’s Court located in the county where the deceased individual resided. When the deceased individual’s will is admitted to probate, the executor is appointed and is then allowed to administer the estate. Even though he or she is named executor in the will, the executor has no authority to act prior to the will being probated.
  • If there is no will, or no executor named in the will, the court will appoint an administrator  with all the powers of an executor. 
  • Also, if the individual appointed executor in the will cannot fulfill his or her duties for any reason, the court will appoint a new executor or administrator. 

As a side note, it’s important to point out that the executor is taking on a tremendous amount of responsibility on behalf of the deceased individual, his or her beneficiaries and the court. Therefore, most states allow executors to be compensated for their role. Again, the amount of compensation allowed by law differs from state to state. And, any compensation received is considered taxable income.

In summary…

The easiest way to become executor of estate is to be named in a will. If it’s a role you desire, it is best to speak with your relatives about that becoming a reality. For more information, please contact The Olear Team today!