What to Keep, Sell, Donate and Toss

Cleaning out a home is a major undertaking. The sheer amount of stuff can be overwhelming.

Whether you’re moving to a smaller place in retirement — or helping your siblings clean out the family home after your parents pass away — the process is never easy.

You might be up against a tight deadline because the house needs to be sold. Or maybe you’ve been putting this off for a long time but now you’re ready to tackle it.

In this guide, we discuss what items to keep, toss, sell and donate when clearing out a house.

We’ll also pass along some practical solutions to save you time and money, like nonprofit organizations that pick up donations.

Step 1: Create a Plan of Action

There is a seemingly monumental task before you: Cleaning out an entire house.

Where — and how — do you start?

First, create a plan of action and a realistic timeline. Consider your resources and deadlines.

For example, if you need to clean out your parent’s four-bedroom house by yourself, it’s going to take longer than a single weekend. In fact, it will probably take days — or even weeks or months — to get everything organized.

Look at the time you have available outside of work and other responsibilities. Does the house need to be sold by a certain date? Can your siblings fly in to help?

Try to account for breaks and moments with sentimental items as you plan your timeline. Cleaning out a family home is more emotionally taxing than packing up for a normal move.

If you have help, assign everyone a task or a room to declutter before you start. Have each family member make a list of items they want from the house to avoid confusion and conflict down the road.

If you’re downsizing after the death of a loved one, it’s important to locate the will first if there is one. Carefully read through it with a lawyer before you start clearing out the house.

This binding document will decide who gets what and how to proceed with legally dividing the…

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