I often work with people who have recently lost their parents and have inherited a lifetime of items. They are going through the grieving process and also overwhelmed by the task of sorting through all of these inherited belongings. The timeframe around this process varies based on their parents’ estate plan and the number of people receiving the inheritance.
The most common question I receive from my organizing clients in this situation is, “What do I do with it all?” Here are some options on what you can do with these items. Please remember this is an emotionally challenging undertaking, so take your time, and ideally ask friends, family or a professional organizer for guidance and assistance.
Temporarily Move it to a Storage Unit
If you’re in a time crunch and not ready to sort through everything right away, temporarily renting a storage unit to hold your parents’ belongings can be helpful. This should only be temporary, you will soon need to make decisions on what to do next.
Clean it Out, One Room at a Time
If you have the time and energy, sort through one room at a time. Keep those sentimental items, memorabilia and photos that are important to you. After you’ve decided what to keep, all other items will need to be donated, sold, recycled or tossed.
Hold an Estate Sale
Hiring a company to hold an estate sale is another way to streamline this process and limit your involvement in this emotional task.
Sell Items on Your Own
If you know which items are valuable, you can sell the items on your own by holding a yard sale, or selling items online through sites and apps such as eBay, Craigslist, LetGo, Nextdoor or Facebook groups. This process can be very time consuming.
Give Items to Friends or Family
Asking friends and family to pick up the items they want, or shipping items to out of town family can help to disperse the belongings.
Donate to Charity
Find a local charity where you can donate household goods and furniture. If you have a large amount of donations, some charities will send a truck to pick things up.
As you sort through it all, you may find things that need to be recycled. Check with the community’s recycling rules and arrange for recycled items to be dropped off at the local recycling facility.
There will probably be many things that cannot be sold or recycled as you sort through your parents’ home. Gather all trash together and arrange for trash pick up and disposal. If you have a large amount to toss, you may want to rent a dumpster or contact a junk hauling company.