In a perfect world, we could all take months to move and avoid the stress and hassle of the packing and unpacking. But who lives in that world? Chances are that a loved one’s health is failing and they need the extra care of assisted living. Or maybe someone has died and you need to get the house cleared out before next month’s rent is due.
Whatever your reason for downsizing, NerdWallet has some tips to avoid getting stressed and frazzled by the work that needs to be done.
1. Gather photos, paperwork, prescriptions
Load paperwork and photos into boxes and consider storing them in a climate-controlled area. These items usually take time to sort and you can organize them later.
If you have items that you can’t sell or donate, this is the time to dispose of them properly. For unneeded or expired medication, a pharmacy can suggest ways to get rid of it. This is also the time to get rid of food that won’t be eaten before its expiration date. If you have nonperishable items, you can typically donate to a food bank.
2. Identify the ‘keepers’
Items that have a place in a new home or with relatives are called “Keepers.”
If someone has passed, the executor or successor trustee may need to hire appraisers and find out the value before anything is sold and distributed. If you’re looking for referrals, an estate planning attorney or a real estate agent may be able to help. You can also check with Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.
However, hiring an appraiser can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, which may not always be practical. You also can get a rough idea of many items’ potential worth by checking eBay and using the “sold items” filter.
Clearly mark all of the “keepers.” NerdWallet suggests using different colors for people and places that will get the stuff.
It’s time to hiring movers, rent storage and ship items that have a new home. Make sure you set deadlines to ship items and those things that will be picked up. The idea is to declutter. This is also the time to decide if you and your family are tackling the job alone or if you’re bringing in Senior Move Managers to help. They can help with floor planning, sorting, packing and unpacking.
3. Decide what to do with the rest
Consider an estate sale if you have a lot of furniture and household items left over.
Just know that you will likely part with about 30% or more of the sale proceeds if you allow a professional to do the estate sale for you. The upside to hiring a pro is that they advertise, price the items, and handle the transactions. Many companies will even dispose or donate whatever doesn’t sell. Check with estate planning attorney and real estate agents for referrals to estate sales agents. You can also check with the American Society of Estate Liquidators.
You can also have a garage or yard sale and list items for sale online. Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor allow you to list items and add information and pictures for potential buyers to see. You can also list items as “free” on those sites.
It might be necessary to rent a dumpster, make trips to the landfill or hire a junk removal company. Sorting and sifting through so much stuff might make you a more conscious consumer in the future.
Let’s get moving.