The aftermath of a loved one’s death can be difficult. In addition to processing the grief from the loss, you probably also have a long list of to-dos to keep you busy.
Of these to-dos, the estate cleanout is one of the most daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk this path alone. In this post, we’re sharing a few of our top property cleanout tips to help you get the job done with as little stress as possible.
Let’s dive in.
8 Tips to Clean out a Loved One’s Bay Area Home
Whether the passing of your loved one was sudden or came after a long illness, the estate cleanout process can be challenging. Fortunately, following these tips will help you get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible:
1. Change the locks
Before you do anything, you need to secure the home by changing the locks. This is especially important if you won’t be able to start the Bay Area estate cleanout immediately. By changing the locks, you ensure that your loved one’s property is safe and secure until you can sort through everything. If your loved one rented rather than owned their home, speak to the landlord about the best way to secure the property until you can handle the items.
2. Locate important documents
Before you sort your loved one’s material possessions, it’s essential to go through their paperwork to find important documents. Locate the following and place them somewhere safe:
- Credit card account information and statements
- Utility bills
- Passwords and usernames for online accounts
- Paperwork for valuables like jewelry and art
- Tax forms, pay stubs, insurance paperwork, etc.
- Mortgage payment information, deeds, and car registrations
- Insurance policies and wills
- Social security card
Once you’ve located these documents, you can start to sort through other paperwork and get rid of whatever is not essential.
3. Review your loved one’s will
If your loved one had a last will, make sure you read it before starting the estate cleanout. Your loved one may have spelled out their wishes for specific items and belongings, which it will be up to you to follow. If the will is complicated or deals with expensive or extensive belongings, it may require a probate attorney’s assistance.
4. Make a plan of attack
To streamline the estate cleanout process, create a plan of attack. In what order do you want to go through things? What are the essential items to sort through and get rid of? In many cases, the nature of the estate will define the priorities.
For example, if your loved one owned a small business, going through their office is probably the priority.
If there’s not a pressing issue to determine priority, we recommend taking a room-by-room approach. Start with your loved one’s items and spaces (bedroom, home office, etc.) and branch out from there.
5. Take your time
An estate cleanout is challenging, and it can be tempting to rush through it and get back to your life, but it’s essential to take your time. When you rush the process, you don’t give yourself enough time to sort items properly or have valuable belongings appraised.
Additionally, giving yourself plenty of time allows you to process all of your loved one’s belongings without stretching yourself too thin in the process.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably stumble upon items you haven’t encountered in the past. These items will serve as reminders of the person you lost and may be emotionally triggering. Pace yourself as you deal with these items.
6. Organize items by category
One critical step of estate cleanout is to organize things by category. This process makes it easier to identify and get rid of junk when working through the property cleanout. If you intend to have family members claim some of your loved one’s items, it also makes it easier for everyone to find treasured mementos.
To organize items effectively, go through the house room-by-room. Set aside sentimental items in one pile. Create another pile for items that are high-value, personal, or antique. We recommend having fine art, furniture, jewelry, antiques, and silver appraised before selling them or getting rid of them.
7. Hire help
Even a simple estate cleanout creates a lot of junk. Instead of attempting to move it all on your own, hire a team of professionals to help you. A good property cleanout service, like Nixxit, can help you eliminate unwanted items, donate salvageable clothing and furniture, and clear a path through your loved one’s items.
8. Donate unclaimed items
After you’ve gone through the house, held an estate sale, invited family members over, and removed the junk, donate whatever is left. A Bay Area junk removal company like Nixxit can help you remove junk and donate items that are in good condition. And thanks to our green and eco-friendly recycling and junk removal tactics, you can trust that your junk removal won’t fill up the local landfill.
A Note on Grief and Property Cleanouts
While estate cleanout sounds like a utilitarian task, it can be incredibly emotionally triggering – especially if you were close with the person who passed away. Did you know that about 2.5 million people die each year in the United States, each leaving an average of five grieving people behind?
For many people, sorting through a loved one’s physical belongings during an estate cleanout creates wave after wave of fresh grief. Whatever you do, don’t rush yourself through your grief. Dealing with the emotional fallout of this time is critical, and processing your emotions will help you avoid overwhelm down the road.
Here are a few tips for dealing with the grieving process:
- Acknowledge the feeling. It’s tempting to suppress grief. Unfortunately, resisting it only makes the feeling last longer. Instead, acknowledge and name your sadness. The person you lost was special to you, and honoring their memory may help you make space for your grief.
- Expect the unexpected. Grief is a complex emotion that can lead to many other complex, unexpected feelings. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you suddenly feel angry, exhausted, resentful, or scared. This is all part of the grieving process, and it will pass eventually.
- Give yourself grace. There’s no “right” way to grieve. Every grieving process is unique, and placing unrealistic expectations on yourself will only make it more painful.
- Seek out support. Support is critical during grief. Now is a great time to lean on your support network of friends and family. You may also find it helpful to hire professional help, like a therapist or a professional junk removal company. Asking for help will allow you to process your loved one’s death without feeling alone.
- Keep some treasured items. The good part of estate cleanout is that it puts you in close contact with all of your loved one’s belongings and allows you to claim things that are particularly meaningful or special to you during the property cleanout. While processing these items may be difficult, keeping some treasured belongings is also a great way to keep your loved one’s memory alive.
- Take care of yourself. The death of a loved one is the most commonly recognized cause of grief. It can create various adverse physical effects, including headaches, nausea, stomach pain, chest pain, and fatigue. Fortunately, you can minimize these impacts by prioritizing self-care. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking water, and resting when you need to.
- Maintain outside interests. An estate cleanout can quickly become an all-consuming task. Make it easier on yourself by maintaining outside interests and hobbies. Keep exercising and seeing friends, for example, and remember that the estate cleanout is not your whole life. If you find that you’re really struggling, consider joining a grief and loss support group in the Bay Area. Here’s a great resource to help you find one.
While processing grief can be complicated, these tips can help you navigate your loss more easily.
Come to Nixxit for Easy Estate Cleanouts in the Bay Area, CA
Being responsible for a loved one’s estate is a big job, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible. By following the tips above, you can quickly and easily clear out the estate without feeling like you’re all alone in the process.
Regardless of whether your estate cleanout job is large or small