If you are planning an estate cleanout, chances are you are already under a degree of stress. We often need to clear an estate when a family member or close friend has passed away and their home needs to be emptied of their possessions. Here are some of the things to consider before you start the process to make the whole ordeal easier, quicker and less stressful for you.
Do you Have Someone to Help You?
This is not something you can or should do alone. Depending on the size of the estate, this can be an enormous undertaking and might be physically and emotionally exhausting for you. Get family and friends to help in small shifts if possible to sort through all of the belongings. For the physical labor, you should do some research into hiring a company to expedite the process after you have decided what needs to be thrown away and what should be kept for various purposes.
Where Are the Key Financial Documents?
Before you start throwing things away, locate and secure things like wills, trusts, insurance statements, deeds, titles, bank statements, certificates, tax information, and receipts. Many elderly people do not keep these papers neatly organized all in one place. Over time they may have gotten mixed in with papers and documents that are more or less just trash. Before starting to throw things away, make sure you have located the most important documents.
Can you Sell or Donate Any of the Belongings?
Not everything in the home should be treated as junk or trash. Many things should be donated or sold to make money for a funeral or other similar costs. If there is a mortgage to be paid off or rent still owed, it could help to have extra cash from things that could be sold. You can bring items to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army to be donated, as long as they are clean, unbroken, and still functional.
Did You Think About Hiring an Appraiser?
It may seem like just another step to draw out the process, but doing some research into hiring an appraiser can actually be worth the time. If there is a lot of furniture, jewelry and antiques, a professional can give you a fairly accurate estimate at an hourly rate. This will help if you do decide to sell any of the items in the house.
Did you Talk to the Family?
If the estate doesn’t belong to a direct family member, it’s best to talk to the family and get a list of items they want to keep before you start clearing out. Have them work out problems and disputes on their own and then present you with a list. If you need to, don’t be afraid to involve a mediator or legal help if cooperation becomes difficult. Even if the home did belong to one of your family members, it is possible that other relatives may want to keep things from the home that have sentimental value.