Author and estate guru Julie “The Estate Lady” Hall, a national expert when it comes to moving, downsizing and “getting rid of,” has written several books on the subjects, including Sell, Keep, or Toss?: How to Downsize a Home, Settle an Estate and Appraise Personal Property and Boomer Burden: Dealing With Your Parents‘ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff. A director of the American Society of Estate Liquidators, Hall offers pointers on “letting go.”
* Just because an item is old doesn’t necessarily mean it is valuable. Sentimental value is very different from market value. The crucial “first step” is to understand the values of what you have, so you can make sound decisions as you move forward in the process.
* Record a video of your home as it was, before you begin to empty it. If you are clearing out a family member’s estate, distribute the video to siblings as a memory.
* Photographs are a great idea, especially of individual items that have meaning to you, but you have no place to store the actual items.
* If you find vintage and antique photos, scan and keep them digitally, or distribute to family members in an estate.
* You can always create a memory book online with Shutterfly, Smilebox, Snapfish and other vendors. Memory books take up much less space and will be treasured.
* Don’t keep something just for the sake of keeping it. Be thoughtful and minimalistic in your clearing-out process. You don’t need multiple sets of anything. Do you really need it and have a purpose for it?
* The more stuff you keep, the more it becomes a monkey on your back. The stuff doesn’t go away without your efforts. One day, your heirs will have to clear out what you keep.
* Give to those who are really in need. That item that you “might need one day” is needed every day by someone else.
* Donate to those less fortunate. If you decide to have a sale, arrange to donate the items that did not sell.
* Be honest and realistic. Have healthy boundaries and realize that space is limited.
* Ask yourself some pointed questions: Will I use this item? Why am I keeping it? Is there someone who could use it more? Am I keeping it because I don’t want someone else to have it?
* Escort “guilt” to the door. You don’t need to carry that.
* Select very carefully for a future generation. They probably will not want what you keep for them.
* If you want to give something to a future generation, why not gift it now? You’ll enjoy seeing them happy, and it will be out of your way.