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How to clear out ancestral home 
Started by jaindough
30 Aug 2014, 11:14 AM
I am once again turning to this wonderful community for advice regarding a very practical matter that I still need to face after mom passed last month:

I have to clear out her two-story, four bedroom house. I also want to sell it.

Mom, raised by two war-weathered parents, was taught never to throw anything away, and she really took that to heart. Over the last year before her hospitalization she had taken pains to start de-cluttering and emptying cupboards and drawers. She did a fair job, but there is still quite a lot of 'stuff' left in the house.

There are so many sentimental items in the house, I know it's going to be hard to go through it all, even though I am a very pragmatic person.

Does anyone here have any advice on this?

Thank you,

JD 
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Reply by NatR
30 Aug 2014, 4:49 PM
Hello Jaindough,

nice to hear from you....I hope others will respond as well with their ideas.  I am not sure how to reply as I think we are all different in what we see as treasures or dust collectors.

i love photographs and would make sure I save the ones important to me...but perhaps you already have those tucked away:)

we older folk tend to squirrel away hoards of spoon collections, salt and pepper sets, wall hangings...things like that I would just take whatever has meaning or memories for you and let the rest go to a second hand or thrift store.

its time consuming to go through drawers full of old letters, Christmas cards etc.  Again, have a Save pile and a garbage pile....we can only keep so much.

i did that at my moms....thinning out her drawers, everything from Christmas ornaments to old magazines....what you may not want, someone else woukd find a treasure.

i still donate clothing, and various things that I no longer use or have need of, shoes, scarves, sweaters etc.

its starting the task thats hard some times, but nice you begin, it's a bit easier 

if you have old furniture tables, chairs, beds, once again, a thrift store may pick up or you could even do a yard sale.

good luck with everything....let us know how it goes:) 
wishing you a peaceful day:) 
natR
 
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Reply by JennJilks
01 Sep 2014, 1:15 PM
I so know how this feels! Having done this, and moved several times, I know how overwhelming it might seem. Personally, since we were moving into my late mom's house, I removed all of their things and put them into storage. Then, once our things were in it was easier to figure out what to give, sell or keep. 

First thing to remember is, a house should be staged properly to sell. This means you do need to declutter. They suggest keeping furniture but removing mementos. Also, only two items on the top of any table or piece of furniture.

Secondly, second-hand furniture doesn't really sell well. We donated lots to our local women's shelter, as well as the Sally Ann.

Clothing should be washed. Check pockets, though! My parents had these little measuring tapes, from when my dad was working as an architectural consultant. Now, I wound it relatively easy to pack up mom's stuff, but then when my father died months later, I packaged up the stuff and my dear husband took it to the Sally Ann for me. 
I took my mom's things to a different town. She had some lovely outfits as she worked until she was 66 years old, wool suits, etc., and I know they would be good clothes for someone.
I made a checklist, and motored on through this. I was really numb doing mom's things. 
If you are in doubt about anything, simply keep it. Wrap it up properly and save it. My late mother adored Christmas and had THREE trunks full of decorations. I could not face going through it. I gave it away for the church to sell. I didn't realize my daughter wanted some of these things. HUGE mistake. I should have taken more time.

This article I wrote might help, it breaks it down for when you are moving them into a long-term care, but it might twig some ideas for you: 

moving your parent: a checklist


Bearing in mind that you need to keep all the legal documents for 7 years, as well as filing the tax returns.

Also, this article:

selling your parent's house


 

 All the best. You can do it!
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Reply by NatR
01 Sep 2014, 1:25 PM
Hello Jenn!
wonderful advice!!
you Rock!
sending you a hug today!
NatR 
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Reply by jaindough
18 Sep 2014, 1:55 AM
Thank you guys for your help. I did the first sweep of moms home last week. I have to say, it was hard, what with all the memories crammed into every nook and cranny. But I am very happy with the progress and very proud of the amount of work I accomplished.

i cleared out the bedrooms and they look great for showing for selling now. The main floor looks good too and is nearly cleared out.

my next trip up I will tackle the basement which has a lot of old clothes and toys. The local charity shop will actually come to your house and empty as needed, which will be great. Friends had suggested an estate sale but the idea of strangers rummaging through and haggling for moms stuff put me off. I am happy to donate the bulk of it. I will try to sell the furniture but if not, it is not fancy and, again, I am happy to donate.

my best strategy was to totally ignore time zapper items like photos (and there were heaps) and letters (mom kept love letters from when she was a teen!) and put them aside for later.

next will be to get an agent and put the house up. I'll let you all know how it goes.

cheers,
jd 
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Reply by JennJilks
18 Sep 2014, 11:46 AM
This is good news, JD.
I know what you mean about the sale. I had a 'garage sale' and mom's neighbours and friends descended like old crones, the night BEFORE the garage sale, haggling over mom's jewlery.
We weren't ready, had table covered with cloths.
My husband took over, sent me in the house. I felt robbed.
Good progress and good research you've done. Good for you. 
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Reply by jaindough
22 Sep 2014, 11:59 PM
Ok Gang,

Looks like all the paperwork is in for the notary and we are heading back up to move forward through the estate settlement process. I just want it done, and sooner than later because driving to my hometown once it starts snowing becomes risky and I'd rather not.

I have a lot to do on my checklist; meet with notary, meet with real estate agent, contact charity shop to come and clear out basement (I'll hold on to the mementos I want to keep and let the rest go.) My goal is to just have the furniture left to help show the place and that can be sold or cleared out later. I will also donate mom's car to the kidney foundation (it is really old and I am ok letting it go.)

The distance is the worst in all of this. Baby boy and hubby are coming with me this time (dog is going to be kenneled) and the drive is 7 hours if you only stop to gas up. Ugh it's going to be so long.

In all of this, dealing with all of the aftermath, also having to deal with in-laws that have been nasty to us at the worst time in our lives, I feel like I have not had any time to deal with the emotional upheaval that all this has caused in my life. I know I will need to deal with it at some point. It all feels very robotic and matter-of-fact at this point.

Wish me luck. 
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Reply by jaindough
02 Oct 2014, 9:10 PM
Here is where we are at:

I met with the notary and the administrative side of things are moving along. My husband and I worked tirelessly for several days, going through every single thing in the house and preparing it for selling, giving away, donating, recycling or at last case throwing out. The basement was chockablock and we did it! We actually cleared it out. There are still a few things left behind but it looks great for showing now, which was my biggest concern.

We found all kinds of interesting things. I kept the most precious items, and took pictures of items I wanted to keep a memory of but did not want to actually keep. I found a punchbowl my parents received for the wedding in 1971, with the card still attached! I found my cristening gown, my brother's baby teeth, countless art projects that my brother and I made. So many memories.

I kept a few special toys that I played with as a child for my little boy.

After we cleared everything out, I told my husband that I could almost hear my house sigh a huge sigh of relief. We sold or donated old shelves and chests and opened up the space tremendously. We met with the agent and the house is now up for sale. It feels so alien to see my childhood home up on a real estate website. 

Fingers crossed she sells quickly. 
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Reply by KathCull_admin
03 Oct 2014, 2:11 AM
Congratulations JD. What a huge accomplishment - with lots of physical and emotional work. What a great idea to take pictures - I tend to chuck things without enough thought - wanting to 'make space' but pictures keep the memory.  

I look forward to hearing the 'Sold' sign is hanging.
Katherine
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Reply by JennJilks
03 Oct 2014, 11:06 AM
Tough work, got the job done! You must feel proud.
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