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Why Use a Professional for an Estate Clean Out?

By Mary Holmes

In addition to helping seniors downsize, Integrated Move Management assists with the Estate Clean Out process. This process takes place when the owner of a home has passed away and the possessions inside need to be removed. The most common scenario is when the last parent dies and their adult children need to disperse all items in a house so it can be sold. There is a lot involved in accomplishing this task and there is quite often a tight timeframe for completion. It can be quite stressful for the children of the deceased and can cause tension between siblings. A common issue that can complicate the situation further is when the adult children don’t live nearby or even if they do, they are busy with jobs, families and other obligations. For most people, the project is overwhelming and where to start is a huge question – so it gets put off until the last minute. Hiring a professional early in the process can make things go smoothly and reduce the stress level for all involved. Here are some things to consider.

Proven Process

As stated above, the process of going through a house full of possessions is quite overwhelming for most people. The key is to have a plan that is based on a step-by-step approach. A professional will know where to start, have a project plan with a timeline, and keep things moving along in an organized fashion. Our clients are quite often extremely relieved to feel their stress level decrease once they see that we have things under control and that there is light at the end of the tunnel for a project that they thought was impossible.

Start at the Beginning

We start by taking an inventory of all items in the house – typically based on a walk through with the client. During this walk through, we take pictures and notes based on the wishes of the client. For example, are some of the items going to a child or friend of the deceased homeowner? Do they need to be shipped or moved by a professional moving company? Do they have a propensity for a certain charity that they would like to donate items to? Are their valuable items that need to be appraised? In other words, what are the goals of the client?

Be Organized About Organizing

Once we understand the goals and desires of our client, we start sorting the possessions in the home – typically room by room. We are quite proficient at dividing items into categories. We will end up with clearly marked boxes or bags (we use colored dots for large items) which will signify the appropriate disposition of each item. Will it go to a child or friend of the homeowner? Will we attempt to sell it to a dealer or online? Will it be donated? And then, of course, we have our bags ready for recycling and trash. Two important things to keep in mind so the process goes smoothly and efficiently is that each item should only be touched once and your labelling system should be clear. Yes, I know I’m repeating myself here – but in the heat of sorting – all black trash bags will look alike and you may end up throwing trash in with the clothes you want to donate to a charity. We work closely with our clients (if they want to be involved) and within a short period of time, they typically feel more relaxed and start enjoying the process.

Knowing the Lay of the Land Most clients would like to produce some revenue from the possessions in the home, if possible. This can be more complicated than it sounds: what is the best avenue to use for each item? Is an appraisal needed? How do auctioneers work? Is Craigslist or EBay a better online site? How can you tell if someone is trustworthy? We have the experience necessary to quickly determine what action to take depending on the item in question. We have an extensive database of trusted contacts that we work with to ensure our clients' interests come first. Starting this part of the process as early as possible and working with a professional will help ensure you receive more money than going it alone. Impartial Third Party Most times, this is a very emotional time for all those involved. Between the loss of a loved one, the need to part with many sentimental and cherished possessions, and the many decisions that need to be made - it is not surprising that a high percentage of families experience some level of tension between members, or worse, outright fighting. A neutral third party with the experience to gently guide all those involved and help to keep focused on the goals, can be beneficial during this process. We were recently hired for an Estate Clean Out that had an extremely tight timeframe, with a real estate closing about ten days away. In a matter of four work days, we were able to organize the online sale of furniture and household items; donate hundreds of books to a library fundraiser, art supplies to a school, medical equipment to a local charity, and a variety of items to a start-up museum; take several trips to Goodwill and the recycling center; schedule an on-site document shredding truck; and move a large volume of items to one of the children’s homes two hours away. Although we did have a few “dump runs”, our goal is always to minimize the amount of trash produced. Although the client always had faith in us, he was still surprised at the efficiency and quality of our work and felt he received a good value. If you or someone you know needs clean out help, please contact us:

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