how to clear out an estate

If you are asked to handle or clear out an estate of a loved one, the tasks and the stress add up quickly.   Many times, the expertise and local resources of a downsizing pro, Professional Organizer or Senior Move Manager can make the process go much more smoothly.

Estate services pro and Collectibles Advisor Randi Hutton of RZ Connection shares the most common responsibilities and tasks you may face when you need to clear out an estate.

How to Clear Out an Estate

When a loved one has passed, there is grief and a sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of possessions and what should be the next steps to take to clear out an estate. 


Many times there are no family members living close by, and they enlist an attorney to act on their behalf. When you are dealing with the legal aspects of an estate, it is important that you fully understand your legal responsibilities and duties. 


You’ll want to work closely with the attorney or other legal counsel to determine exactly what specifications and records must be honored for legal purposes, and clearly understand what will be required to fully settle the estate.  

Attorneys will take care of the detailed paperwork, although they will often need assistance in gathering documents and carrying out the wishes of the Will.

This is where a Professional Organizer or Senior Move Manager can be invaluable in providing a low stress, organized disposition of the estate for the executor and the family.

Professional Organizers and Senior Move Managers are often called upon to:

  • act as Project Manager to oversee the entire process ensuring that the property and any off-site storage is disposed of in accordance with the wishes of the executor and family.
  • take photographs and written inventories of all belongings in the home.
  • sort and organize all the contents of the home.
  • identify all of the important papers left in the home.
  • identify and help with disbursing items to be kept: items mentioned in the will, family memorabilia, photos, jewelry, heirlooms, etc.
  • arrange appraisals of art, jewelry, furniture and objets d’art.
  • sell items using auction houses, liquidators, private buyers, on-line sites, consignments, etc, with approval from executor and family
  • arrange for the donation of items to appropriate charities
  • discard junk and items that cannot be sold.
  • hire and oversee contractors to ready the property for sale.
  • clean the property thoroughly.
  • oversee home staging for sale (when required).
  • handle customized requests.

A Professional Organizer, Downsizing Specialist or Senior Move Manager has all of the local relationships and resources needed to ensure that the estate clear out process is handled with professionalism and efficiency.  If you are faced with this challenging task, call us first for compassionate service that will make this difficult time easier for all involved.

Reach out to your local pro for advice and guidance on the best resources in your area.


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