Optimally, it’s best to spend months or years carefully purging excess belongings. However, life may get in the way, says The Independent’s recent article, “3 Steps to Downsize in a Hurry.” So let’s look at what we can do now:
- Collect paperwork. This includes photos, prescriptions, and perishables. You may want to box unsorted documents and photos for temporary storage in a climate-controlled area and sort through them later. Next, deal with the stuff that can’t be sold or donated, such as unneeded medications and perishable food that won’t be eaten in time. Nonperishable, unopened food items typically can be donated to a local food bank.
- Identify the ‘keepers’. These are possessions with a definite home. iIf someone’s moving, this includes things that will be going with them. However, if you’re clearing out after a death, keepers may consist of items destined for heirs. An executor officially charged with settling someone’s estate may be required to hire appraisers to value possessions before anything is distributed. If you have potentially valuable items, like antiques, jewelry, art, or collections, ask a personal property appraiser to help you determine what may be worth the extra effort of selling. However, hiring an appraiser can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, which may not always be practical.
- Decide what to do with the rest of it. If you have several rooms of furniture and household items remaining, think about an estate sale to help you dramatically downsize. Estate sales are often organized by professionals who advertise the sale, price the items, handle transactions and provide security. Estate sales agents may agree to donate or dispose of whatever doesn’t sell. They typically get 30% or more of the sale proceeds. Giving stuff away is another option. However, charities are often selective about what they’ll accept. Check their websites or call first to avoid an unnecessary trip. Some charities will send a truck to pick up approved donations.
Reference: The Independent (May 18, 2023) “3 Steps to Downsize in a Hurry”