The home presented itself as a cheerful, well-kept place. But as I walked through it with the three men who had just inherited it, the sadness underlying the cheer emerged. The woman who had been Mom and Grandma had just passed away a week earlier. Mundane, everyday items triggered emotional reactions. The coat that she had worn so frequently brought tears to her son’s eyes.
But we were there to discuss clearing the house in preparation for selling it. The men were in the process of deciding which items they each wanted as mementos. They were not having any problem deciding who would take which items, they just had more items than the remaining family could absorb into their own homes.
“Are any of these things worth selling?” they asked. Our answer to that varies based not only on what we see as the value of the items, but our perception of the ability of the person to accept that answer. If we believe that the person will reject our opinion because it conflicts with a preconceived idea of the value, then we will suggest that we involve an expert. We are often quite confident about what the expert will say but, in those situations, we want that first rejection to come from another source.
In this case, the three men understood that Mom’s precious dishes no longer held the value that they once had, so I could give them a straightforward opinion. “They could be sold, but the amount you will get for them will most likely be less than the cost of selling them.” They agreed that what was important was that someone appreciate the dishes, so donating them to charity would be appropriate.
These men were very fortunate. Not only did they have this lovely woman in their lives for a very long time, but she also left behind a legacy of valuable things. True, the dishes had little monetary value. However, the well-maintained house was tremendously valuable, and her coin collection was impressive.
The estate will incur costs. Removing items from the house requires sorting, packing, and hauling. The items will go to consignment stores, charity donation centers, recycling facilities, hazardous and electronic waste processing sites, and, as a last resort, landfill. Then, once that’s complete, the house will need a bit of maintenance and then it can be staged for sale.
We take great pleasure in taking the burden off the shoulders of people like these men who are dealing with loss and grief. We manage the house clearing project for them so that they are free to deal with all the other issues that come along with losing such a key family figure. We can do the sorting, we work with consignors and charities, and we bring in haulers. We keep drama to a minimum, too.