Perhaps your loved one is downsizing. Or maybe planning a move to assisted living or a nursing home. He or she may even have passed away… If you find yourself needing to pack up a relative’s belongings, start by sorting them into five categories:
- items to keep
- items to sell
- items to donate to charity
- items to shred
- items to throw away/recycle
Items to keep and to throw away/recycle have obvious action steps. If you have a lot to dispose of, ask the local waste hauler to drop a debris box at the curb.
Items to sell. There are a variety of options for professional help with reselling.
- Estate liquidators do on-site sales. They review, organize, and price the goods and host a sale in the home. They typically take a percentage fee on what they sell, plus hourly charges. You can find a local referral through the American Society of Estate Liquidators
- Auctioneers take a fee for selling items off site.
- Consignment shops offer items for a set period of time, such as 30 days. They take a commission on sales. Find out what happens if your items don’t sell.
- Consider selling them on eBay or to an eBay reseller.
Items to donate. You can claim a tax deduction for the fair-market value of items in good condition. Get a dated, itemized receipt from the charity.
Items to shred. If you are going through old bank statements, tax records, or any documents with important financial information—social security numbers, bank account numbers—you will want to shred them to prevent identity theft. Certainly you can shred them at home, but this is time consuming. There are companies that can deliver a container they will pick up later and shred the contents. You may also find a local merchant, such as a photocopy store, that has a shredding container you can put your documents in for a per-pound fee.
Want help with all of it?
- A senior move manager. They charge an hourly fee and will do everything from packing to coordinating with resellers to taking leftovers to charity. Check with the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
- A junk removal service. These companies can remove everything. Get a cost estimate first (ask if there’s a fee for the estimate). They resell items, recycle them, or dispose of them at the local landfill. A nice plus: they finish with a thorough cleanup!