7 Tips to Simplify Estate Cleanouts

More often than not, clearing out an estate is completed after the death of a friend or loved one. It’s an emotional and stressful time, and the last thing you want is for the cleanout process to add stress. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.

While there is no way to make the pain of losing someone magically disappears, there are a few ways to make the estate cleanout process simpler.

1. Read Estate Papers

The best first step to take is to read through any wills and estate planning paperwork left behind. These will typically include information on where the departed wishes for specific items to go, whether that is a family member, a charity, or another entity.

By reading the paperwork first, you can ensure that those items go to the designated place. Not only does this help fulfill your loved one’s wishes, but it also takes some of the decisions off of the living family members.

2. Talk It Out

Anything that is not listed in the paperwork should be discussed among other family members. If you can come to an agreement at the beginning about who gets what, it becomes less stressful and contentious when the cleanout actually begins.

3. Consider a Mediator

If you’re having a hard time coming to an agreement, a mediator can help. You might choose a trusted but neutral party that you all know, such as a church member or friend of the deceased. You could also hire a professional.

4. Know All Related Locations

Sometimes, a deceased person has more than just a home and garage to clean out. Often, there will be a storage building and other places where they have stored property.

The estate paperwork might mention all of these locations, but it’s best to do some additional research. Ask their friends and other family members and check for receipts or other paperwork around the home. Bank statements might also show payments to storage facilities.

5. Prepare

Estate cleanouts take time – sometimes days, sometimes months, depending on your schedule. It can be managed more effectively if you and other family members can sit down and work out a schedule together. If 10 of you can work together two or three days a week, you can minimize the length of time the cleanout will require.

You’ll need to make a plan for any items you need, too, such as trash bags and boxes, and decide who will be responsible for bringing them. Also, consider making a plan for lunch on cleanout days to keep everyone’s energy and moods up.

It’s a good idea to determine ahead of time where everything that is unwanted will go so that you can plan ahead. For example, if you will donate the items, you can call ahead to determine if a specific charity does pickups and how far in advance you need to schedule it.

6. Designate Places for Paperwork

Any paperwork you find will need to be sorted through to determine whether it’s important to keep it. However, trying to manage this during a cleanout day can slow progress tremendously. It is better to process paperwork at a later time.

Set up several boxes or baskets throughout the property that are designated for paperwork. Tell everyone involved in the cleanout that any paperwork should be put into those containers. This will save time and simplify the entire process.

7. Hire Help

With so much work involved in an estate cleanout, extra hands can go a long way. You can hire a junk removal service to be carrying out the unwanted items while you and your family focus on the sorting. Some help you sort items, too, if you wish.

Many junk removal services will donate usable items to charity, which further simplifies your job. And, if you decide you don’t want any of the items, they can come in and clean it out for you. No matter how much or how little help you desire, there is a junk removal service to suit your needs.

Estate cleanouts are stressful, time-consuming, and often emotional. With the tips listed here, however, you can make the process go a little smoother.