image of woman folding out sheets during an estate clean out

Stuff We Leave Behind: 6 Estate Clean Out Tips for Your Late Parents

The passing of a parent is difficult enough. But the time after the memorial and funeral is only the beginning of a long and trying road ahead. After a parent passes away, they not only leave behind a memory-filled legacy. They also leave behind a home and a lifetime’s worth of belongings to go with it. An estate clean out is not only physically taxing. It’s an emotionally demanding process that makes grieving all the more complicated.

If you’re mourning the loss of a parent, you may be wondering what’s next as far as their estate goes. To help make the process as painstaking as possible, we’ve assembled these 6 cleaning tips. That way, emptying out your parent’s home can make for a healthy grieving process.

1. Secure the Premises

Unfortunately, some people will take advantage of a family during a vulnerable time. There could be several spare keys floating around and in the hands of the wrong people. To be on the safe side, have all the locks and passcodes changed.

You should also have your parent’s mail forwarded to your address. Identity thieves are more than willing to prey on an overstuffed mailbox. Stay on top of your parent’s email, as well. Be wary of any suspicious emails or phishing attempts during this time.

By being vigilant, you can minimize your stress levels during an estate clean out.

2. Take the Necessary Financial & Legal Steps

Once you’ve secured the premises, it’s time to get down to the finances.

Your parent’s lawyer will likely have the most updated version of their will. But if your parent has a computer, check for any recent revisions they may have made to the will.

This is a good time to contact your parent’s homeowner’s insurance company. Make sure their policy stays in place until the estate’s closing. If they have life insurance, you’ll also want to get in touch with their policyholders.

Contact their bank and obtain records of their account statements. Then, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to close down their accounts as necessary. You may want to work closely with their lawyer as there may be conditions tied up in the will.

Search high and low for any important documents and hidden money. Check under the mattresses, all drawers, in crawl spaces, and even inside curtains.

3. Sort Through Their Personal Belongings

Sorting through one’s belongings can be the most difficult part of an estate clean out. There should be an area of the home set aside for the items you and your family plan to keep. There should then be an area for items to donate or sell.

It’s important to keep these areas in separate rooms not only for the sake of organization. It’s not uncommon for family members to disagree on whether to give away or throw away certain items. Keeping them in rooms behind closed doors can ease any arising tension.

Keep clutter at a minimum by packing items into boxes. Make sure you clearly label each box and identify the contents inside. You can also color code the items based on whether they’re for keeps, to sell, or to donate.

If there’s a lot of junk to throw away, you can give Bye Junk a call for our estate cleanout services.  We’ll take care of the work for you and ease the stress in dealing with the junk.

4. Remove Old Furniture

There may be antiques or sentimental pieces of furniture that you may want to keep within the family. But you should still dispose of furniture that’s of no use. When the time comes to show the house, you don’t want to detract from its value with old, worn down furniture.

After throwing away furniture that’s of no use, set aside the pieces that you can sell for cheap. Be honest about the condition of the furniture, take pictures, and price fairly. You can then post free ads on Craigslist and Facebook.

You can never go wrong with donating used furniture that’s still functional. You could even get crafty and re-purpose old furniture. With some sanding and a fresh coat of paint, they could be good as new!

5. Clean & Prepare the Estate for Showings

An estate cleanout is not over once you dispose of the clutter. As things start to clear out, you’ll want to start cleaning and preparing the estate to sell.

Now is the best time to do any necessary home repairs and small renovation projects. Here are some examples of projects you can consider doing:

  • Giving the walls a fresh coat of paint
  • Fixing creaking doors or leaky faucets
  • Patch up holes or markings on the walls
  • Wash the windows and floors
  • Dust the home from top to bottom (including ceiling fans and cabinets)

As far decor goes, you want to keep this as minimal and neutral as possible.

Remove family photos and anything that’s reminiscent of the previous owner. Doing so will not only make it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves in the home. It will help with your own grieving process.

6. Take Your Time

It’s important to remember that an estate clean out takes time. By breaking up these stages, you can give yourself the time you need to process and grieve.

It’s also important to know when to walk away from a task or project. If you’re feeling emotional, set the project aside. Give yourself a physical and emotional break by going to a movie, out to lunch, or visiting a friend.

You’re Never Alone During an Estate Clean Out

The death of a loved one and moving are two of the most stressful life events anyone can ever face. Enduring both simultaneously makes for a stressful time of immense and traumatic proportions.

If you’ve recently suffered the loss of a parent, right now is a very delicate time for you and your family. These 6 tips can make the cleaning and emptying out process much easier. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, either.

Let us help you through this difficult time. Our residential clutter removal services will not only expedite your estate clean out. We can help take stress off your shoulders so you can spend this time with the people around you.