Planning an estate cleanout is a necessary task in any instance of divorce, relocation, or after a death of a loved one. Due to the heavy, difficult emotions involved, knowing where and how to start is often a daunting task. Fortunately, we have several tips for planning that can greatly streamline the process of an estate cleanout.
Take A Tour of The House
Taking a slow, careful tour of the house you intend to clean and declutter is a great first step to take. Doing this allows any looming grief to be processed and for familiarization with the belongings left in the house as well as its general layout.
It can be tempting to start tagging and bagging the first room you see, but properly familiarizing yourself with the home and its contents will make each step thereafter much more navigable and feasible. Depending on the size of the house and the number of belongings within it, this step can take a couple of days.
Ultimately, however, the time spent on each stage of an estate cleanout is up to you and your family. During the tour, note specific rooms and individual items you’d like to inspect further or allocate to another family member or friend to examine. In addition, take note of the condition of the house and its contents, as this will be important towards the end of the cleanup when selling or subleasing needs to be considered.
Locate And Store Important Documents
The documents you’ll need to get your hands on partially depend on the nature of the cleanout-if cleaning after a loved one’s death, locating their will and important insurance policies is vitally important. Other important documents to find from a deceased loved one are their bills, their various passwords and usernames, mortgage payments, vehicle registrations, and their pay stubs and tax forms, if applicable.
These documents should be safely tucked away before any sorting or disposing can begin, and again, a thorough search is the best insurance against misplaced forms and documents. This step also helps determine what legal action may or may not need to be taken, especially regarding wills.
Set An End Date
It can be extremely tempting to dive straight into the mountainous project of an estate cleanout, or for some, putting it off for months sounds equally tempting. In either case, planning specific dates to work on and finish the task will help mitigate both of these temptations.
At this stage, it is also important to be in contact with family and close friends to collaborate on a set of days or weeks to undertake the cleanout. Ensuring that everyone is on the same schedule is vital in streamlining the planning process of a cleanout.
With that being said, estate cleanouts often take much more time and energy than one would expect, and it is important to plan with this in mind. Make sure that you specifically delegate time rather than waiting for opportunities to surface, as this will again simplify and speed up the often unpleasant clean-out process.
Distribute And Organize Belongings
This step may seem unnecessary and skip-able, but taking a day or two to deeply understand what you’re working with will alleviate much of the stress involved in an estate cleanout. If parting with the belongings of a deceased loved one, distributing their belongings is an important step to take before any cleaning can begin. Depending on the state of your familial relationships, bringing in a small group of immediate family first and then working to the outer circle of close friends may be the least stressful option.
Understandably, emotions run high in times of crisis, and keeping this in mind will help mitigate any unnecessary tension or bitter partings. Having everyone clearly mark what they would like to take is also important in keeping tempers low and intentions clear.
Decide On Disposal And Storage Options
Once primary memorabilia has been distributed, tackling what remains must be done before the house itself can be cleaned and sold. Going room by room and creating one pile to sell and one to dispose of will help lay the groundwork for the home’s value as a whole, and any outdoor structures like sheds and garages.
Whatever you decide to keep must either be donated, sold, or stored, and it is important to know what you would feel most comfortable doing. Those damaged or low-quality items that have been deemed as garbage can stack up quickly, especially if the home belonged to an older individual with plenty of years to increase their possessions.
More likely than not, you’ll have more trash than you know what to do with. Because of this, renting a large dumpster is a simple and convenient way to tackle the garbage issue while still being highly practical. This will also allow other steps and processes to be prioritized, along with time to simply grieve and process what you are undertaking.
Determine What You Will Sell And How
Large items like furniture, appliances, and decorative pieces can usually be estimated in value and sold online with little hassle. An estate sale is a nice option for selling a large number of items, but these sales do take careful planning and preparations to be worth their while.
Additionally, many states tax estate sale revenue since the revenue is often much higher than a standard garage sale. Depending on your goals and how much time you can spare, selling online on sites like eBay and Craigslist is a good way to unload items with relative ease.
It may also be worthwhile to get appraisals done on items you suspect to be high-value, as this will better determine the revenue you can expect to make. For any items too nice to be thrown away but unwanted by family and other consumers, donating is a wonderful option.
Some donation facilities may even offer a small profit for your items, but this will depend on the quality of the donations and the donation center.