I was out of the office all of last week because the time had finally come to sort through my beloved mother-in-law’s estate. Our goal was to sort, pack and empty out the house she had lived in for over 40 years.
All I can say is WOW, there was a lot of stuff, and quite frankly, we didnt not get it done in the 4+ days, and we worked very HARD.
To help others, here are 5 Steps to Sorting Through an Estate:
1) Get LOTS of packing supplies. Boxes of various shapes and sizes – Big enough for artwork, small enough for that cherished nativity set. Get packing paper to wrap delicates and even a roll of bubble wrap. Also, save those towels or linens that you thought about selling or donating, and wrap valuables in them.
2) Get a roll-off dumpster. You can usually get them for a few days or up to a week and they come pick them up when full. Price these out because they vary greatly from company to company. This helps because you can take out trash items as you go along, keeping your space from getting too cluttered – and believe me, it will look like a tornado hit as you go along!
3) Decide whether you want to have an estate sale or donate your items to charity. The estate sale will net you cash, donating will give you a tax deduction. Weigh your estimated net proceeds. Some people find estate sales emotionally difficult because something that is priceless to you, may only go for a couple of dollars. Donating to a good cause can leave you feeling good because you are helping others in need. We called up the Hospice company we used and they will actually come into the house and take out the items we are donating (most wont come into the house, so call around). This is especially helpful for large items such as bedroom furniture. NOTE: Most places will no longer accept mattresses, but we asked around and were glad to find friends that needed a set (they came and picked them up).
4) Clear a room and create designated “drop areas” for items. For instance, if there are two families that will be keeping items, designate an area for each family and as you go through items, simply place “keep items” in that designated place. Designate a place for artwork, a place for glass items, a place for linens, a place for electronics, etc.
5) Tag all large items throughout the house with post-it type notes. Label them “donate”, “storage”, “trash” or “Sister Sue’s – storage”. When an entire room has been gone through and cleaned out as much as possible, put a note on the door that the room is “DONE!”.
Lastly, be sure to focus on the important stuff. Dont fret over finding a home for every single thing in the house. Make a box of laundry supplies and give that to a neighbor. Make a box of garage items and save it for your son for when he has his first house.
There are ten grandchildren in our family, and my mother-in-law loved Christmas, so we made ten “starter” boxes of Christmas items for each grandchild. When they have a home of their own, they will have a piece of their “Granny” to help celebrate!June 21, 2010 4:09 pm