Having to clear out a loved one’s home after they have passed is never an easy one. Allow yourself/family to go through the grieving process before you start clearing items out. You will have enough to handle upfront with the funeral arrangements, memorial, etc., before you tackle their living space. Here are 5 tips to help the process go more smoothly.
1. Important Documents (Financial & Legal)
- Will, Insurance & Bank Accounts – you need to retrieve these from their space as soon as you can.
- Homeowners Policy, Mortgage Documents (if there is one) Stocks/Bonds and Bills and receipts should be gathered up as well.
- Change the locks, as you have no idea who might have keys. This is for your own protection.
- Change or forward their mail to your home, until you can advise people/companies.
- Create a list of everything (try and do it by category) and start with the largest items first.
- Consult with family members/close friends to see if there is something specific they wish to have.
- If it is not stated in the will, then the family can vote on who gets it.
- In the case where a family does not agree or get along – you can hire an estate lawyer or arbitrator to settle a dispute, however, you will save yourself a lot of money, if you don’t have to go this route.
4. Personal Belongings – leave this till the last, to do
- This will be one of the hardest step and the most emotionally draining. Just do the best you can.
- Personal Items/Heirlooms – you can’t keep everything, so set them aside for the short term, then re-visit and try and only take 3 things that are really important to you and sell or let the rest go to someone else.
- Try to sort the belongings into 3 categories:
- Things you want to keep,
- Items to be donated to charity,
- Things you can get rid of or give away to people you know.
5. Prepare loved ones homes/space – for sale/rent
- Check every inch, nook and cranny of the house and furniture for hiding spaces, for valuables/money.
- People use odd spots to hide valuables (examples: old shoes, under carpets, under mattresses, inside pockets of old coats, in the freezer, air vents/floor registers,) you would be surprised.
- Once everything is cleared out and the space is clean, take photos.
- Hire a professional to sell or list the space.
If you are not sure you can do this alone or with family members – there are qualified resources available to assist:
- Certified Personal Concierge Services – a number of Concierge companies offer this service
- Accredited CPPAG Estate Company – keep in mind, they charge at least a 20% commission fee on top of their regular rate
- Professional Organizers – some organizers offer this service
If you have any questions or would like to comment, please feel free to contact me. As always, feel free to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one, via the commentluv feature here on the site.
Until next time,