Cleaning Out a Home After Death

While death is not a pleasant topic to talk about it does relate to organization.  After a death occurs you may be faced with the task of cleaning out a loved ones home.  During this time you may be upset and decisions will be difficult.  Here are a few tips to make the process a bit easier.

1.  Consider taking photos of items you don’t have room to keep or don’t want to store long term.  After you take the photo, take a few moments to also record what you know about the item and any memories you had associated with it.

2.  Usually 20% of the home’s items are meaningful and 80% are not.  Focus on the 80% that you can make quick choices about and move on quickly.

3.  Check everywhere.  People use odd spots for hiding things and you can easily miss something that is hiding in a cost pocket or the inside of a shoe.

4.  Have thing appraised.  If you are unsure, get someone in to look at the item.

5.  For items such as photos that more than one of your family members may want, scan them in and give everyone a digital copy.

6.  Estate sale companies do take a commission, however, they will set up, manage and run the sale on your behalf.  If the situation is very emotional for you, this may be a great option.

7.  Before you begin any clean out make sure you have located the appropriate documents and spoken with an attorney.

8.  Contact a charity such as Goodwill and see if they can do a pickup for you if you have a lot of items to donate.

9.  Consider changing the locks to the house.  You don’t know who else may have a key and if they are ill intentions after they hear of your loved ones passing.  Protect yourself.

10.  If you are selling the home, speak with a real estate agent as soon as possible as to see what work may be needed to get the house in condition to sell.  In many cases outdoor work can be occurring while indoor clean out is on going.

This is just a short list of items to get you started and get you to think about the project at hand.  Remember that the choices you are making are not easy and you should give yourself additional time and resources to handle this organizational challenge. It is not the same as cleaning out your closet at the end of the season.


  1. says

    I love the first tip you give about taking pictures of everything, so you will always have the memories without having to haul them into a storage unit. My mom was a pack rat, and she has so much stuff that I can’t possibly keep it all. I feel bad about giving away or selling her stuff, but if I take pictures of a lot of it, it feels like I still have the memories associated with those items.

  2. says

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    returning tߋ гead through more, thannks for the advice!

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