Cleaning Out a Relatives Home
How to Clean out a Relatives Home – On a Time Limit
Estate Clean Out
When a loved one dies, it’s not always possible to allow yourself time to grieve before buckling down to clean out their house and divide the estate. Whether they lived in a rental property and the landlord wants it emptied within 30 days, or you can’t afford to continue paying taxes and utilities on the property, an ever-increasing number of people find themselves forced to undertake an estate clean out on a tight deadline.
While the process of cleaning out a relative’s house may seem overwhelming at first, it becomes easier when you break it down into some common sense steps, allowing you to get the job done quickly even while dealing with difficult emotions.
Step 1: Set a Time Limit
Rather than using a vague timeline for completing your estate clean out, you should select a specific date and inform the entire family. Knowing that you must empty your relative’s house by X month on Y date creates a greater sense of urgency than saying that the work must be complete “within a month.” Setting a firm end date will also help you get the house on the market faster. As Julie Hall of The Estate Lady, explains: “This boundary should be respected by everyone in the family, as the house is usually the biggest asset and, once sold, the proceeds can be divided.”
Step 2: Get an Appraisal
When you’re faced with a tight deadline for cleaning out a relative’s house, hiring an appraiser will make it much easier to determine which items are valuable enough to be sold and which should be divided among the family. Most of us aren’t equipped to determine what counts as a valuable asset on our own. Hall makes it clear that the value of an item is “NOT a price you see on the internet, as that is just an asking price that came out of someone’s mind.” A qualified appraiser can tell you whether that vase on the mantle is a rare antique or simply old.
Step 3: Work in Stages
Once an appraiser has gone through the house, remove all of the valuable items so that they can be sold later. Now the real work begins. Dividing up the remaining property is the most challenging aspect of any estate clean out—and the one that can most seriously slow the process down. To minimize friction and keep the process on track, tackle this step in stages.
Don’t let the whole family loose on the house right off the bat. First go through each room and do a rough sort. Divide into two piles: things that are probably worth something or have some sort of memory value and things that appear to be junk.
Now it’s time to bring the family in to claim what they want. If your relatives generally get along and there haven’t been any major disagreements about the estate or the home clean out process, you might choose a day to have everyone come in at once. This way, if multiple people want the same item, they can hash things out right away, keeping the process moving forward.
On the other hand, if there are tensions in the family, bringing in smaller groups of relatives at a time can make the process less fraught. Start with the deceased’s immediate family, then those relatives and friends they were closest to, and then everyone else. Let each group go through the house placing sticky notes with their names on whatever items they want. Put those who chose the same items in contact with each other—reminding them that they have to come to an agreement by the target date you established for the estate clean out.
If there are usable items in good condition left over after everyone has made their claims, choose an appropriate charity and contact them to arrange a pickup.
Step 4: Remove Unwanted Items
Once you’ve removed everything to be sold, kept by the family or given to charity, it’s time to rent a dumpster to haul away what’s left. When you’re cleaning out a relative’s house on a time limit, this is the quickest and simplest way to complete the job. If this feels overwhelming, remind yourself that the items you’re putting in that dumpster aren’t the things your relative cared about or the objects you associate fond memories with. They’re the regular old junk that your relative likely would have been happy to be rid of.
Step 5: Hire an Estate Liquidator
The final step in your estate clean out is to sell the valuable items. If you have a large number of items to sell, hiring an estate liquidator is your best bet to get the job done quickly. As Hall explains, “They know the market, the values and the right way to sell personal property.” If you have a smaller number of valuables to sell, Hall suggests taking the items to a consignment shop or contacting an estate buy-out person.
Hazimihalis, Katina. “How to Clean Out a Relative’s House On a Time Limit.” The Fill How to Clean Out a Relatives House On a Time Limit Comments. N.p., 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.