Losing a loved one comes with a lot of emotional side effects most people expect to deal with. Grief, depression, loneliness, and other emotions are all part of the typical post-mortem experience, and most people can see it coming. However, there are a few experiences that families don’t see coming and are ill-prepared to deal with. Knowing what to do with all the possessions a deceased loved one leaves behind is an experience few have a preexisting plan for.
Important and valuable items like jewelry, cars, homes, and investment accounts are hopefully delegated in a will, but what do you do with less valuable items like books, furniture, photos, and clothes?
Assemble a Team
Trying to make the decision of what to keep and what to ditch isn’t a decision you want to make by yourself. Assemble a team of other friends and family members to help you sort through everything so all the pressure isn’t solely on your shoulders.
Start with Low Hanging Fruit
When you start this process, begin by eliminating the obvious no’s and keeping the obvious yes’s. Things like food in the pantry or basic house hold supplies will have little to no monetary value or sentimental attachment, so they can easily be discarded or divided among family members without too much fuss. Items like financial records need to be kept, at least for a little while, so this is also an easy call to make.
Start a Spreadsheet
If there’s a fair amount of items with a considerable amount of monetary value that need to be divided among family, use a spreadsheet to keep track of who’s getting what. Record the name of the recipient, description of the item, and an approximate value of the item. This can be used to quash any squabbles that may break out about getting the short end of the stick.
Know Your Limits
It can be tempting to try and save every item your loved one possessed, but this just isn’t feasible. Before you start sorting, set a limit for the number of items you’re going to keep. An easy way to do this is by getting storage containers and limiting yourself to items that can fit in the containers.
Only keep what you can use on a day to day basis or what will serve as a good reminder of your loved one. Obligation and guilt aren’t good reasons to keep things.