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So, Mom and Dad left you a house full of STUFF – now what?

It’s time. You’ve lost your parents and have had some time to deal with the loss. Now, you have to make some decisions regarding their possessions. For some, this may seem overwhelming – emotionally and physically. What should you keep, what should you discard and where do you start?

Some people have a small apartment filled with possessions, others have huge homes with multi-car garages filled with valuables, such as coin or stamp collections, jewelry, paintings and designer bags, as well as sports equipment, tools and furniture. If time is running out or you are emotionally unable to sort through some things, rent a storage unit (short term) or ask a friend or relative if they can store some items for you.

Getting Started…

The first step is to find the legal documents – a will and/or a power of attorney. This is vital in order to proceed to the next steps.

  1. Check everywhere – coat pockets, shoe boxes, under socks in the dresser draw, etc.

  2. Sort through papers – bills and accounts, bank mail and statements, safe deposit box keys (unclaimed contents of safes are usually turned over to the state) and for any checks that may not have been deposited or cashed. “I did an estate sale at a client’s home and found over $50,000 worth of checks that were never deposited.” says Barry Blank of National Estate Jewelers.

  3. Keep items that provide sentimental value. When thinking about holding on to other items, decide whether you have the need or space for it.

  4. Donate to family, friends and/or organizations. You may want to sort into categories or boxes and use various colors to denote who will receive specific items. When donating to a charity, keep a record and ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

  5. Trash: It is vital to shred old documents, do not simply throw them away. Unfortunately, information has been stolen by those who “pick through” the garbage. Before placing other items (not paper) in the trash, contact a reputable appraiser who can determine if something has value.

  6. Sell to a reputable dealer.

  7. Unclaimed Property: Many people are happily surprised when they discover money that was either left to them or they forgot about. Go to (for NJ). Each state should have a website. “I’ve found hundreds of dollars myself from a previous business venture.” says Barry Blank.

There are various options to help you sort through your parents’ belongings. There are organizations and businesses that can come in to do the entire job for a flat fee or percentage of the estate’s proceeds.

Many people are thrilled and relieved when National Estate Jewelers is contacted for an Estate Consultation and Appraisal. At National Estate Jewelers we make YOU an offer and NEVER ask you how much you want… that would be unethical. National Estate Jewelers is conveniently located at 212 NJ-18, East Brunswick, next to the FedEx office. Stop in or call 732-257-GOLD (4653).

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