Clearing Out a Parent’s Home
February 7, 2018
11 Tips for Clearing Out a Parent’s Home
Clearing out a parent’s home is an extremely emotional and stressful experience no matter the circumstances. Besides the nostalgia and sometimes grief that accompanies sorting through a parent’s things, there is also the possibility of disagreements with siblings or other family members about who will keep what.
On top of that, there is a LIFETIME of books, pictures, documents and memorabilia, furniture, dishes, linens, and more to sort through, box up and sell, give, or throw away. If the home is not paid for or is going on the market, the pressure is even greater.
So, what is the best way to approach this task?
Here are 11 tips and thoughts to keep in mind as you get started.
1. First, start to organize
Experts at estate clearouts say it is easiest to start by tossing easily identified trash like old socks and underwear, lidless Tupperware, soap and Q-tips, magazines and opened food items. If something is broken or stained, throw it away. There will be more trash during the clear out process, so make sure you have plenty of boxes, garbage bags, and gloves, plus permanent markers to label containers “Keep,” “Discard/Trash,” and “Donate.”
2. Understand that this job is going to take some time
For an entire house, it can take several months of weekends. Work in four hour blocks or break it down by closet, room, or a particular area of the home to make the job and measuring progress easier. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to start and loose confidence and motivation. Breaking things down to smaller, easy to accomplish jobs will help combat these feelings.
3. Know that you will probably have to get rid of most of the stuff
Remember, we all have limited space in our homes and our own objects that have sentimental value. Try to pick a few special items to keep. For remaining items, try to donate them to local no-profits to help keep your parents memories alive.
4. Be thorough
Seriously, go through every single closet, drawer, container and pocket, because sometimes jewelry and other valuables can be tucked away and forgotten. Checking through places like old shoe boxes, books and dresser drawers can help you find items that have been stashed away for years.
5. Preserve sentimental photos
These are irreplaceable. Lucky there are many services out there that specialize in preserving old family photo’s and videos.
6. Plan to donate clothing
Most clothing has little resale value unless it’s vintage, so it may be easier and more worthwhile to make charitable donations instead. There are many places that will except old clothing like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and many churches, synagogues and homeless shelters.
7. Sort papers later
Group keepsakes like greeting cards, programs and so on in one box, official records like birth and marriage certificates, military discharge papers, etc., in another, and financial documents such as wills, life insurance policies, deeds, bank statements, stock certificates, 401(k) records and tax returns in another. You can talk with an attorney after the clear-out about how to transfer assets to named beneficiaries, as well as shred duplicate copies of papers with personal information.
8. Expect to argue
Have your siblings create a wish list of the items they’d like from the estate. Then, try to divide the assets equally by monetary value which you can determine by having an appraiser come in. But keep in mind that you are family and the most important things in life aren’t “things” at all.
9. Know what you want and why
Of course you will want to keep some objects, but do not feel guilty about discarding or donating things. If they are not pretty or useful to you, donate them without guilt. Take pictures of items you want to remember, but are not practical to save. The important things to keep are your memories.
10. Divide the physical labor
Don’t be shy about asking for a hand from close family members or friends. Clearing out a home by yourself is truly a daunting task, so asking for help from friends and family is a must. If you have having trouble getting help in this process you may want to think about hiring a company that can help, we will touch on this in greater detail in our next tip.
11. Hire professionals help
After sorting through the personal items, having someone without an emotional tie to household items can move the job along more swiftly. Among those to consider are:
• Professional Organizers
Someone who can help you group, photograph, and catalog everything. To find a trustworthy Organizer, ask BumbleJunk for a referral or look for one on the NAPO website. Professional organizers are great at helping you keep on task and they usually have relationships with other companies that can assist with other areas of your clean-out.
• Estate Appraiser
This individual can give you dollar values for furniture, jewelry and antiques. To find a trustworthy appraiser, ask an estate attorney for a referral or look for one on the American Society of Appraisers website.
• Junk Hauler
A professional junk removal company will come on-site to and remove unwanted items, including heavy or bulky things or whatever’s left after you’ve decided what to junk. They can quickly get the home cleaned out and the job completed. If you choose an Eco-friendly junk removal company, most will attempt to donate or recycle any items they remove.
And That’s it,
Remember, just as each relationship is unique, so is each grief journey. Don’t let others judge you for how long (or short) it takes you to accomplish this task. As always, BumbleJunk is only a phone call away to provide whatever assistance you need, from lifting and removing items to delivering a dumpster for you to fill yourself. Our professional, courteous team is sensitive to how difficult this time can be, and will work with you to make the process as simple as possible. Call us to schedule an estimate at 1-888-286-2535 or for more information check out our website at www.BumbleJunk.com.