You just inherited a house and you need to take care of all the items in it. Or you are the Executor of a Will and you have to distribute items and real estate to beneficiaries. No worries, we are here for you! In the first part of this series of articles, we focused more on the valuable belongings and documents you need to keep safe and/or distribute. Now that this is out of the way, we can focus on what to do with less valuable items – or even the junk in the house.
Collect the clutter
After you remove any valuable items you spot right away, start carrying the junk out of the home.
Make a plan to clean out the home, getting rid of things that are broken, damaged, or have little practical value. Keep in mind that you’ll be donating some of your items and selling others. Try to avoid throwing anything out that might have value to someone else.
If you find large junk items, like furniture, place them outside so they will be picked up by junk removal companies.
Tip: Don’t second-guess yourself! If it seems like junk at first, it usually is.
Hire a junk hauler
Once you’ve made a pile of garbage, it’s time to get rid of it. This is one of the biggest steps, so don’t be afraid to feel a little relief.
Hire a junk hauler with a large truck to sweep away that big pile of trash, or persuade several friends to help you move everything to a local dump.
Tip: Recycling helps the environment, when you hire a junk-hauler, ask them if they separate recyclables.
Have an Estate Sale!
After you’ve selected what’s worth keeping and tossed out the trash, you’ll still have a lot of stuff. Fortunately, that’s where estate sales come in.
Hosting an estate sale is the most time-consuming and labor-intensive part of the process. You can skip this step and go straight to the donation process if you do not care about earning any money from the sale. However, preparation for a sale gives you an opportunity to clean out all of the items in the house.
Prepare for an estate sale by cleaning and dusting your belongings, writing down an inventory, and figuring out how much everything’s worth.
Tip: While pricing items, it’s best not to get caught up in the details. The goal is to sell everything you have as quickly as possible, just like a yard sale. If you can’t decide between two prices, go with the lower of the two.
Make a donation
The next step is setting up a mass donation. Research donation centers in your local area, and choose the one that interests you most. If you don’t have access to a truck or don’t want to transport donated items yourself, find a place that offers free pick-up.
Donation centers do not accept all donations, and they might discard items that they believe will not sell. Consider donating to more than one donation center when you have a large volume of items to dispose of.
If possible, have the retail value of your donations calculated by the charity. You can earn something because the donations you make may be tax-deductible.
Tip: Get in touch with the charity you want to donate before you actually go through with this process. Also consider donating to your deceased loved one’s favorite charities.
Be sure to check every part of the house
Make sure you’ve completed a thorough search of the house before putting it on the market. Peek into every closet! Check the attic and basement, too. Your loved one may have stored a box of mementos somewhere you’d never think to look.
Tip: If you have a letter of instruction, be sure to re-read it. It often includes important information regarding the keys and passwords necessary to access safe deposit rooms and safes.
Come on, let's clean the house!
You’re putting the house on the market – that can be a relief! But first, you need to clean it up. Luckily, you have people to help in this mission. You can ask friends and family to help scrub the walls, floors, and appliances, or hire a cleaning service.
Even if you are keeping the house, a top-to-bottom cleaning is a good idea.
Tip: Don’t clean the house as you go through the other steps. It’s best to wait until you have cleared all belongings out of the home and then clean it in one go.
When a family member inherits a home, it can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can clean out the home as quickly as possible, put it on the market to avoid paying a mortgage or property taxes, and make some extra money in the process.
You need time to process the loss and you must resist the temptation to take on more responsibilities than you can handle. This is important so that you can take good care of yourself and your family. And if you need help organizing this process you can use Myend’s post-loss checklist.