How to Handle an Estate Cleanout
Few tasks are as intimidating as an estate cleanout. If you find yourself facing the challenge, there are plenty of reasons to want to simplify the process. Chances are, the reasons behind the task are unpleasant. Maybe a loved one has died. Maybe debt or lifestyle change have made the house impractical. Regardless, we are here to provide some tips to make things more manageable with your estate cleanout.
Before You Start Cleaning
There are some basic tasks to work through before the cleaning process begins. First, locate any important documents that might be located in the house.
These might include birth certificates, wills, or insurance paperwork. If the house still uses paper billing, take a moment to locate documentation for services and utilities.
If the homeowner has a sheet for passwords and login information, secure that too. You don’t want these to get lost in the chaos.
If you believe others might have access to the property, change the locks. Potential intrusions are best avoided.
Make arrangements for mail delivery. Talk to the people at the post office and set up a forwarding system that works. Your junk removal project is in the works and you can now get started!
Tips For Your Estate Clean-Out
Ask For Help
This is a big task, and you don’t have to do it alone. Call on your family or other support system to divide the labor. In the case of the loss of a parent, your siblings are often your best option. This can also give you the opportunity to grieve together. Otherwise, call upon anyone who you are close to and located in your town.
Go through the house room by room and take notes of what you find there. Some things will be junk, but other items will have financial or emotional value. Once you have everything marked down, the task will feel less daunting.
At this point you can also assess whether or not you should hire a dumpster rental company for the job. If there’s a lot of stuff, this might be a good option and you should certainly get started.
Decide What Should be Kept
A home has no shortage of sentimental items. Get together with your family and decide what items have meaning and personal value. Heirlooms, old books, and photographs might be valuable to you but nobody else. Set those aside. Talk to your family. Do you both want the same thing? Work out some deals. Try to be kind in the process. It might be harder for some than for others.
Decide What Should Be Donated
It doesn’t matter if the house was owned by a hoarder or a neat freak. Chances are, there will be plenty of things that are no longer needed. Make a list of these items. Even if they aren’t valuable to you, consider what they might be worth to someone less fortunate.
Clothes, dishes, towels, and furniture might help out someone in need. It will also feel good to put these items to good use.
Make a Plan
Now that you’ve had time to figure out what’s in the house, it’s time to decide how to proceed. Get together with whoever is helping you and write down a plan. Figure out how much time you have to finish everything and divide up the tasks by day. You might find it helpful to dedicate each day to one room. Maybe you’d prefer to remove all items for donation first. Or perhaps you might want to call a dumpster rental service before anything else. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, just that you have one.
Keep Track of Your Progress
A plan is only useful if you follow it. Make a checklist for each day of work, and mark tasks off as you complete them. The feeling of marking things off will help motivate you to continue. Also, you will never need to wonder what to do next. Return to your checklist, and see what’s on the agenda. Before you know it, you’ll transform the house.
Clear the Junk
Chances are, a lot of what you find in a house will be best off in the garbage. This is inevitable. Look at your lists of items to keep and items to donate. If an item isn’t on either list, it’s time to go. If the house is big enough, you might want to rent a dumpster. Garbage cans fill up quickly, and big trash pickup doesn’t come that often. Renting a dumpster is likely your best option for dealing with the mess.
Knowing everything that needs to be disposed of will help in the process. You want to be as organized as possible.
Consider Hiring a Liquidator
If the house contains a considerable amount of valuable items, you might want to hire a liquidator. Furniture, jewelry, and other antiques can be worth more than you might expect. A liquidator will take inventory of the remaining items and make assessments about their value. Even if you know what the items are worth, a liquidator can help you sell them. This can also help relieve any guilt you might have from profiting off of items.
Once the house is free of items, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Bust out the cleaners and disinfectant products. If possible, these should be the last items left in the house. Put some gloves on, turn on the radio, and get to work. It just might be the first time the house has been so empty since it was last for sale. Years of daily use can make dirt and grime accumulate in places you wouldn’t expect. This might be the part you dread the most, but you might also find it the most satisfying.
Try to Find Value in the Process
Cleaning out a house isn’t likely to be fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take satisfaction in it. The process can be very cathartic. Look at it as a chance to say goodbye to the property and restore it to its original state. If the reason for the cleanout is the death of a loved one, this is doubly important. Take a deep breath when it’s over and reflect on the memories you have there.
Handling an estate cleanout doesn’t have to cause you endless stress. With a little help and a good plan, it will be over before you know it. Hopefully these tips will guide you through a difficult time.