Clearing a Relative’s Estate

Published 31 May 2016

One common use of a mini bin is to help clean out houses. Often these are your own, but unfortunately, sometimes we use them when we need to help clear out a relative’s estate once they have passed away. Hiring a mini bin can make the process easier for you, because we’ll sort out the details of where everything is going, and you just have the bin delivered and picked up directly from the estate. We can also arrange for you to keep the bin longer at no additional cost if you need more time than originally planned.

Here are some suggestions for making this emotionally draining process as smooth as possible.

Woman looks distressed, sits near bed with estate boxes near her

Start by Locating All Important Financial Documents

Before throwing out any papers, look for trusts, wills, tax, and bank documents that may be important. Once you’ve set these aside, it will be easier to throw things out.

Hire a Furniture Appraiser

Your parent’s old cabinet may seem dingy and worn, but a furniture appraiser will be able to tell you if anything in the estate is an antique worth selling or keeping, rather than throwing it away. Furniture and appraisers generally charge by the hour. This can also be helpful if siblings or family members want particular high-value items, and you can work through disputes by understanding exactly how much things are worth.

Check the Pockets

People often hide valuables in unexpected places — the bottoms of bags, backs of closets, inside pillowcases. You don’t want to accidentally throw out any family heirlooms, cash, jewellery, or other valuables simply because you were not meticulous in going through the house. Set a room or sectioned off area each day, and work your way through everything before throwing it out (rather than dumping a pile of clothes or old box in the bin).

Set Small, Achievable Tasks

The process of clearing out an estate can be extremely emotionally exhausting, as well as physically demanding. It can seem like too big a task to take on, and many people get overwhelmed. Break the process down into small tasks that you can then delegate or check off a list. Keep focussed and try to think about the task at hand rather than the memories associated with it. Make sure to take breaks throughout the process and use this time to rest, mourn and share memories.

Choose a Residential Bin for Pickup

Hire a bin to be delivered to the estate, and throw in everything you don’t want to keep, sell, or donate. You can hire bins from 2 cubic metres to 5 cubic metres, which is generally enough room for a medium sized estate. Have the bin delivered early on in the process, so you can get through clutter more easily.

Keep Sentimental Memorabilia

Even though it may be painful or you don’t think you want it now, keep photographs and significant documents. They are irreplaceable and if you don’t want them, ask your family if anyone does. If there are stacks of photographs from a particular era, some museums may be interested in adding to their history archives. Otherwise, consider scanning the photographs and documents and making them available to future generations of your family.

Going through an estate of a relative or friend is extremely difficult, no matter what your relationship to them was like. Consider it a time to help you process their passing, and take your time to go through it.