A Parents’ Belongings
How to deal with it when they die
Cleaning out a loved one’s home after their death can be a series of chores that can be emotionally, physically, and financially overwhelming. And what makes the whole task even worse is that it’s difficult to know where to start. The decisions around what to keep, donate, recycle, toss, or sell can be lengthy and depressing.
Fortunately, there are people who will hold your hand through every step of the process. There are professionals who specialize in “bereavement cleanouts,” or the lengthy and stressful task of emptying a loved one’s house after their death. I spoke to a couple of experts in the matter on the steps you need to take to sort through your family member’s belongings after they die.
1. Look at the Will.
It seems obvious, but read the will, says Matt Paxton of Legacy Navigator, a company helps families with estate cleanouts. “A will is not an opinion, it’s a fact. You don’t get to keep the piano just because you want it, even if you’re the one doing all the work.”
2. Get in Touch with an Estate Lawyer and an Accountant
Hopefully your parent already had an estate lawyer and an accountant. If not, ask around for local recommendations. If you’re settling the estate, you’ll need to get the ball rolling with an estate lawyer, and you’ll need to file taxes for the estate. An accountant can help with this. As you clean, keep an inventory of anything of value, and if you anticipate the will being contested, make it a pretty detailed inventory.
3. Set a Realistic Timeline
Paxton says his company estimates that one person can clean out one cubic yard (about the space of a dishwasher) per hour. That means you and one helper can deal with about 16 cubic yards per day. Use that math to estimate your time and how much help you need. Make a trip to a big-box store for contractor’s bags and cardboard boxes. You’ll probably need to go a couple of times once you get a handle on how much stuff there is.
4. Pick a Room
Deborah Goldstein, a professional organizer who specializes in hoarders and bereavement cleanouts, recommends working your way room to room rather than tackling the whole house at once. She suggest starting with a room that is storing mostly junk, like the attic, basement, or garage.
5. Make Piles
As you go, make four piles or staging areas: one for stuff to go to the trash, one for donate/recycle, one for sell and one for consider keeping. “As you work through each room, you’re getting rid of the junk and you’re putting aside things to think about. Most people start with a lot of things in the “things to think about” pile, but as they work, they go back and do different edits,” says Goldstein.
5.5. (Maybe Stay in a Hotel)
It can be emotionally taxing to stay in the house you’re cleaning out, especially if your relationship with the deceased was not ideal. “If it was really toxic relationship, I think a hotel is worth it,” says Goldstein, though of course she notes that that decision depends not only on your finances but also on the state of the house.
6. Draw Straws and Have An Hourly Show and Tell
If it’s not clear before your parent’s death who gets what items from the house, says Paxton, “literally draw straws as to who gets to pick first an item to keep.” He recommends, if you’re working with helpers, to work in the same room together at the same time.—This will minimize suspicions that someone might be pocketing something.
7. Touch Everything. Literally Everything
Everyone I spoke to stressed that you have to check every pocket, every file cabinet, the toe of every shoe to find squirreled-away cash and valuables. “I’ve found diamond rings, safe-deposit box keys, cash,” says Goldstein. Says Paxton, “Check all the pockets, check every medicine bottle, check the freezer, check the toilet tank. We find a lot of money.” His compan
y will even run a metal detector over the backyard.
8. Deal With Paperwork As You Go
If you’re lucky, your parents were organized and had all their estate planning in place before they died, and that paperwork is neatly filed. But no matter what, you’re going to be handling every piece of paper in the house. Goldstein recommends designating one wall or area for paperwork and stashing it there as you clean out the rooms. Make piles by category.
9. If You’re the Executor, File What You Need to Settle the Estate
Regina Kiperman, an estate-planning attorney in New York, suggests getting as many copies of the death certificate as there are accounts to settle. Then, as you clean, you need to keep birth certificates, social security cards, military records, recent bank statements, medical and pharma bills, any stock or bond certificates, annuities, and life-insurance policies. Shred everything else if it has identifiable information. Keep an eye on the mail through the next tax season to see if there are statements or 1099s coming in that you didn’t know about. If you don’t know how to deal with computers or online accounts—like you don’t have the passwords—ask the estate lawyer for advice on how to proceed.
10. Haul Stuff Away
Paxton says his company tends to donate to local charities, like those that provide clothes to people getting out of prison. However, big charities will sometimes haul away furniture if it’s in good shape. For auctions, he uses Everything But the House. If you need local assistance and/or advice, you can google “estate cleanout + your city” for businesses that specialize in this kind of job.
And take it easy on yourself. It’s an emotionally fraught time, even more so if you’re dealing with this with siblings or other family members. “Try to be understanding of your siblings,” says Paxton. “And at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. Don’t lose your family over it. I’ve seen families break up over Beanie Babies.” He pauses. “Oh, and another thing: Beanie Babies are not worth anything.”
For the full article and to get more tips, visit Life Hacker
When you need help sorting through your parents belonging, reach out to Organize Me! A patient hand is waiting to help you!
7 Tiny Steps for the Beginner Minimalist
Considering a lifestyle change?
If you’ve ever thought that you’d be happier with less stuff, then check out these tips to get started. Changing takes time and effort as well as bold moves. Follow the link at the bottom of the article to get help at any point during your minimalist journey!
1. Write it down. Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. These are your whys and your whys will provide great leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Your whys will help you remember what matters.
2. Discard the duplicates. Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates. If you have two sets of measuring cups, put them in the box. Copies of the same book or DVD? Put one in the box. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you don’t need anything or don’t remember what was in the box, donate it.
3. Declare a clutter-free zone. This area could be a kitchen table, your nightstand, a counter top or a drawer in your kitchen. Use that clutter-free zone as inspiration to live with less. If you enjoy that clean, clear environment, expand the zone a little bit each day.
4. Travel lightly. Travel always renews my love of minimalism and living simply. The next time you take a trip, pack for 1/2 the time. See how it feels to carry less baggage.
5. Dress with
Less. If you haven’t considered Project 333, dressing with only 33 items for 3 months (clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories) sounds extreme, but thousands of people know that it actually makes life easier instead of more challenging.
6. Eat similar meals. When you think about how much time you spend thinking about what you are going to eat for lunch, make your family for dinner, or what you need to pick up at the grocery store, it’s clear that food is not always simple. Try eating the same breakfast and lunch all week and have 2 or 3 dinner choices that rotate throughout the week.
7. Save $1000. An emergency fund simplifies everything. If you are paying off debt, only pay your minimum payments until you can save $1000. If you aren’t in debt, but still spend what you have, set aside money every day or every week until you reach $1000. Try the 52 week money challenge and in 45 weeks, you’ll save more than $1000 without ever contributing more than $45 in a week. Money for emergencies reduces stress and emergencies.
For information on getting your minimalist journey started, visit Be More with Less
When it’s time to sort through and remove your clutter, reach out to Organize Me!
Benefits of an Ample Mudroom
From Closet Works
The chill of late fall and winter is finally here, which means bundling up. When snow falls in a few short weeks, you’ll add winter boots to the mix, too.
The best place to keep all of this gear is near the door. It makes sense to create a storage area near the entrance you use every day.
Entry storage solutions aren’t just for homes with a dedicated foyer. As long as there’s enough space near the door, you can create an area where everything has its proper home.
First Things First: Banish Clutter
Before you begin planning your entryway or mudroom storage, get a good idea of what you need to store. If your entryway is a landing zone for things that you’d ultimately like to store someplace else, clear those things away before assessing how much and what type of storage you need.
With the addition of baskets, drawers or rollouts, any small items that pile up can at least be stored neatly before they’re put away. If items end up getting stored in your entryway —your mail or your kids’ lunch boxes, for example—then you should plan to incorporate storage for them. A shelf or some rollouts will do the trick. Maximizing space and creating enough storage will help your entryway stay clutter-free.
A Bench with Shoe Storage is Smart
What happens when you walk through the door? If you’re like many people, you kick off your shoes or even place them neatly together against the wall. If you add an entryway bench with storage underneath, the whole area will look tidier—and it’ll help you keep your family from tracking dirt and snow through your house.
Coat Storage Can be Hidden … or Not
Adults usually have no problem taking off a coat and hanging it in a closet or wardrobe. But in a household with kids, hooks in open areas function better. They’re easier to reach and require less effort.
You can also have both a wardrobe-style closet plus a row of hooks. This is a good idea if your storage area is smaller and the hooks are mounted above a bench. Short jackets can hang above the bench, and longer coats can go inside the wardrobe.
Add Cabinets, Shelves and Rollouts for Everything Else
You’ll also have to consider everything else you take with you when you leave for the day—hats, sports equipment, gloves, scarves, pet accessories and more. If you’ve got the room, add a cabinet or two, some shelves and baskets or a few convenient rollouts. Corralling odds and ends near the door creates a place for them to live and minimizes the chance of losing one glove or misplacing the dog’s leash.
Entryway or mudroom storage doesn’t have to be elaborate, and it doesn’t have to be built in. Even a few feet along a wall is enough space to create an attractive, hardworking organization center that everyone can use.
When you work with the Designers at The Closet Works, you’ll end up with the right components in the right size for the space that you’ve got. It might be nothing but a bare wall right now. But once installed, your entryway storage system will look like it was born to be there. Because it was. Schedule a free design consultation today.
When you need help getting organized, reach out to Organize Me!
A lot of Clothes in No Space!
- Use ALL available space, but keep it organized.
- Keep out-of-season (winter/summer) clothes out of the way.
- You’re more likely to wear something if you can see it.
- Keep 1-2 hooks empty for quick-n-dirty clean up
- Don’t forget the backs of deep shelves, and high-up places.
1. Try installing a second closet rod above your main one. Buy a stool or a reaching rod for access.
2. Matching hangers makes everything look so nice.
3. Cascading hooks are genius and work with almost any hanger. Use two at a time!
4. You can get a tiered hanger for skirts.
5. Skirt hangers with spring-clips and smooth rubber grips are best.
1. Fold all knit items to prevent hanger bumps.
2. Got deep shelves? Fold clothes appropriately. If you still have space behind your folded clothes store your out-of-season sandals/sweaters back there.
3. If you are using a dresser or other drawers, stack clothes vertically rather than horizontally.
5. For open shelving, be sure not to stack so high that it tumbles.
Shoes & Boots
1. Use an over-the-door shoe organizer. Ideally, look for ones where you can put both shoes in one slot.
2. Small cheap bookshelves are great for boots. Check your local Craigslist for cheap ones.
3. Some people love keeping their original shoe boxes but this can add to clutter
1. Stuff bags with tissue to keep their shape. When using a bag, leave tissue as holding space.
2. Sit them on a shelf rather than hanging them to prevent handles from stretching out.
3. Use bookends to keep them up.
4. If you must hang, use an over the door coat rack to hang bags, and even hats.
6. I love having a junk bowl or box for the things that I often but not always keep in my purse like hand sanitizer or a different sized wallet.
1. Hang scarves on towel racks
4. Items that you intend to use infrequently can be hidden away in boxes. Those are Ikea, and hold travel organization tools, special occasion undies, and hats.
For the full, informative article, visit Life Hacker.com
To get help fulfilling all of these organizational dreams, get in touch with Organize Me!
How to Downsize
An Empty Nester’s Guide
If you’ve just returned from dropping your children off at a university, or they graduated in May and are officially out of the house for good, downsizing your space might be on your radar.
Selling a large home and moving into a smaller one not only holds the promise of making life easier to manage, it can also be more cost effective. But if you’ve been in your current home for a couple decades, you’ve likely amassed a lot of stuff. When is the last time you cleaned out your attic or garage?
The key to downsizing effectively is taking a systematic approach to planning your move and organizing the space. Here are some tips.
Declutter First, Slowly
Getting rid of things you no longer need or want isn’t for the faint of heart. To manage the process of first reviewing your stuff, use these tips:
- Tackle cleaning out spaces slowly over time. You don’t have to tackle the basement and the linen closet on the same day.
- Make three piles: “Keep,” “Donate” and “Trash.” Don’t make a “Maybe” pile
- Decide if you want to include a “Sell” pile (only if you actually intend to sell items).
- To help you make decisions, ask yourself questions like, “When is the last time I used this?” and “What purpose will this serve in my new home?” If you can’t remember the answer to the first question or you don’t have an answer to the second question, it might be time to part ways.
- Choose where you’ll donate what you no longer need. There are many options depending on what you have to donate. Check first—some donation centers prohibit specific items.
Use Space Wisely
If you’ve made the decision to downsize, you might be concerned about keeping your new space clutter-free—whether it’s a smaller house, a condo or an apartment.
To make the most out of less space, use it wisely and consider storage options which make the most out of your closets.
- More hanging storage – If you’ve got small reach-in closets with one rod and a shelf, you can likely add a second rod to double hanging storage for your clothes.
- Hooks and racks – Add hooks behind the door or on the side wall of your reach-in closet or in your walk-in closet to hang bags or accessories. This is also a good spot to add a tie rack or belt rack so you’re not taking up valuable space elsewhere in your closet.
- Shelves and cubbies – Adding shelves and cubbies to a reach-in or linen closet is an excellent way to add storage that helps you avoid piling items on top of items, which can quickly contribute to clutter
If these solutions seem appealing to you, you could also go with a completely custom solution, where a professional Designer reviews the space and helps you maximize it. It’s a better way to ensure that all of your things have a place in your new, more compact home.
Beyond considering where you’ll keep all of your stuff, it makes sense to think multipurpose when downsizing. The spaces in your new home—and the furniture in those spaces—can pull double duty so you can get more out of them.
For example, choose an ottoman that doubles as a storage bin. Consider a kitchen island with cubbies on the side for small appliances or cook books. Maximize under-bed storage with containers or a bed with drawers below it.
And when it comes to sleeping arrangements, you can opt for a sofa bed or even a Murphy bed.
For the full article, visit Closet Works
When you need help getting your empty nest organized, reach out to Organize Me!
Here’s how to organize you desk
Your desk is your command center. How well it’s organized can help set the tone and productivity level
“Surveys show the average person loses an hour a day to disorganization,” said Lisa Zaslow, a professional organizer in New York City. “It takes much less time to get and stayed organized. Think about how frantic and stressed you are when you can’t find something.”
Here’s how experts suggest organizing your desk for maximum efficiency and productivity:
Get your layout right
Your monitor should be in front of you at eye-level and about 17-inches from your body, according to Zaslow. Put frequently-used items, like the phone or supplies, on your dominant side to avoid having to reach across.
Mind your office supplies
Supplies used every day can go on the desk. Items used a couple times a week should go in a drawer under or to the side of a desk. “Getting up even just once a day for a pencil or paper clip is shutting your brain off a project you are working on and you will have to come back and re-center,” said Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago.
It’s also best to group like items together. “All your office supplies should be kept together, not split up in multiple drawers,” said Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer.
Go easy on reminders.
When it comes to sticky notes, moderation is key. Framing your monitor with notes isn’t the most effective. “They’ve lost their usefulness at that point,” said Trager. Use them for important short-term reminders.
Don’t go overboard with personal knick-knacks
Maintaining work-life balance is hard, especially on your desk. Family pictures, vacation souvenirs and other trinkets can provide positive feelings during the work day, but too many mementos can be a distraction.
“Our eyes pull every single thing in front of us and our brain processes it — even if we don’t realize it,” explained Zaslow. A desk full of stuff means “that is a lot of work and editing for you.” She recommended keeping no more than three personal items on a desk.
Control your inbox.
E-mail is a convenient way to communicate, but it can also be a major distraction. If it becomes too much of a distraction, Trager recommended designating certain time periods throughout the day to check and respond to email. “The rest of the time is for work.” Also, don’t be afraid to disable the pop-up notices of new mail if it interrupts work flow.
Embrace white space
Keep a paper-sized free space to your dominant side as a designated work space to make it easier to review or sign documents.
Prioritize your work flow
Only keep relevant and active projects and documents on your desk. When work gets backed up, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stall productivity, so here’s how Trager recommended grouping projects to prioritize:
1) Important and urgent
2) Urgent, but not necessarily important
3) Important, without urgency
4) Non-urgent, and not important
She added vertical file holders help avoid stacking folders on top of each other and overlooking the ones not on top.
Keeping a desk organized requires frequent upkeep and assessments, so be sure to take a weekly scan of your desk to make sure everything still deserves a spot on your work space.
When you are ready to get your home office in order, contact Organize Me!
For the full article by CNN Money, click here
The Ultimate Moving Guide
Moving is stressful. Here’s some help
Moving home can be a hectic and stressful time, so it’s important that you are completely prepared and have the best plan in place beforehand! And when you need help with your move, contact Organize Me! View all the details of The Moving Package here!
1. Make A Calendar
Being as prepared as possible will make the transition a lot easier. Make sure you have all the equipment you need such as usable boxes and some extra cash at hand for surprise expenses.
2. Measure The Space
There’s nothing worse than moving all your stuff to a new place where they won’t fit!
3. Clean Up First
Make sure your new place is clean before you start to move your things in.
4. Order Utilities And Furniture In Advance
You don’t want to get into your new place and find you’re having to wait a fortnight for your bed to turn up.
5. Change The Locks
For extra security.
6. Pack The Essentials Box.
This box will contain all the things you’ll need on the first night, so you don’t have to root around in boxes looking for a bowl.
7. Decide How You’re Actually Going To Move Your Stuff.
You can move your stuff by yourself by asking family and friends to help you, or if you’re on your own a dolly cart. You could also hire a rental tuck with a driver that simply moves all your stuff from point A to point B, or you can acquire full service movers. It’s all about what’s most affordable really.
Whether you sat in back-to-back meetings all day and didn’t accomplish much “real work,” you spent your commute in traffic or you simply have too much to do in too little time, it’s easy to get stressed out every now and then.
One area of your life that may be contributing to feeling stressed could be coming from where you least expect it: your closet. Searching for a shirt hidden in a sea of hanging storage, struggling to find a misplaced pair of shoes or even untangling a mess of necklaces to find the right one during your morning routine can throw off your whole day.
If this is a frequent occurrence for you, it may be time to consider embracing feng shui. Understanding how to create a space with good energy flow could just be the medicine for what ails you.
What is Feng Shui?
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement. The goal is to organize your surroundings to create harmony and balance – transforming your space to enhance your life. It’s thought that showing respect to physical spaces—yes, even your closet—can bring more peace to your life.
Maybe it’s been a little while since you really took a look at what’s taking up space in your closet. Take some time to review the clothes, shoes and accessories in your closet to see everything—even the items lurking out of sight.
We often stress here to get rid of old clothes, ones that are a touch too small or have stains and holes that can’t be fixed. But it’s also important to get rid of any random items that don’t belong in your closet. Find things you can relocate to other spots in your home to create more space. The practice of feng shui sees clutter as blocking the flow of energy in your closet and life.
After discarding or donating things you no longer need, take a look at everything you’re going to keep. Color is an important “tool” in feng shui that can shift energy in a space. Start by organizing different items by color, then type. For example, first put all your blue shirts together then organize those shirts by shirt length or type. Repeat these steps for each color and type of shirt.
Spruce It Up
Take a look at what your space may be missing. Good lighting, some meaningful décor and even a fresh coat of paint could make all the difference in bringing in good energy. Paying attention to these details in your closet can help the space feel refreshed.
Make sure you have everything you need to organize and shape your space. Analyze if you’re maximizing the utility of each drawer and hanging storage space, or if you need to find a new way to organize your things. It may mean just adding clear storage bins and drawer organizers or it could be time for a bigger upgrade to a custom solution to create a calm, decluttered space.
For the full article, click here: Feng Shui Basics from Closet Works
When you need help completing your organizing journey, contact Organize Me! here: Contact Organize Me!
Declutter 101: Where do I start?
Article from Organizedhome.com
Standing amid the stacks and piles, it can be hard to find a good spot to dive in and begin. Too often, de-clutter efforts fizzle along with the light of day.
This time, resolve to succeed! To get your organized journey off to a good start, try these clutter-cutting start points. They will help free a strangled household from the clutter monster.
First Step: A Single Small Success
At the outset, adjust your vision downward from the big (cluttered) picture, to zero in on one small, solvable clutter problem. Clear one counter, de-clutter one shelf, or bring order to a single drawer–and do choose an item that nags at you daily.
Beginning your war against clutter with a small success provides welcome motivation for the long haul. When you feel yourself starting to flag, returning to that one clear space, shelf or drawer will remind you of the goal–and give a new burst of energy for the next step. You can do it!
Slow and Steady Progress
Clutter tolerance seems to run a fever cycle, much like the flu. Every so often, the cluttered household will become intolerable, sparking short-lived but fiery anti-clutter efforts. Piles will be shifted, boxes will be filled, stuff will be stashed–until the fever breaks. Then the clutter tide flows back in, confusion redoubled because of the flushed and furious attempts to get a grip in a hurry.
Just as clutter arises gradually, over time, so it must be fought gradually and over time. Beating clutter requires building new habits, applying new organizational methods, and creating new household routines. The clutter cure takes time, and can’t be short-cut.
Resist the temptation to go all-out in fevered, short-term sorties against clutter. Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the declutter race.
Schedule Declutter Sessions
A successful attack on clutter requires time, energy and motivation. There is no such thing as a declutter fairy, who works while you sleep!
First things first: schedule time to declutter. Even 15 minutes a day will make a good start. Better, schedule larger blocks of time, from two to four hours once or twice a week, for maximum declutter efficiency.
Scheduling declutter sessions brings the goal out of the stratosphere and into real life. By committing time to decluttering, you strengthen motivation and embrace the goal of a clutter-free home. By keeping the declutter appointments, you begin to create islands, peninsulas, then continents of decluttered space.
Trust me. It won’t happen magically behind your back, so schedule your declutter appointments today!
Change Begins With Me
In family settings, clutter accumulates for myriad reasons. Adults shed newspapers and personal items with abandon. Children clutter with playthings, art materials, and school papers. Poor housekeeping routines land clean clothing in piles on the couch, paperwork in stacks on the counter and mail in jumbled heaps everywhere.
When you need help beginning your decluttering project, reach out to Organize Me!
To view the article from its original source, visit Organizedhome.com
What Receipts Are Safe to Throw Away vs. Shred?
Free yourself of receipt clutter!
You’ve probably heard warnings about identity theft and how professional criminals can get all the information they need to make your life miserable just by taking your old, unshredded receipts and financial documents out of the garbage dump. Those warnings are true, but you really don’t have to shred everything. You can just throw away receipts that don’t have any real identifying information.
Anything with even part of your credit card, bank account or Social Security number on it, along with your signature, should go right to the shredder. This includes any receipt that has your entire card, Social Security or bank account number on it, signature or no signature. Any receipt that you sign is best shredded, especially if it also includes identifying information such as your name or address. Shred anything that has any identification number along with your name, even if it is just a customer number or retailer account number.
Throw It Away
You can throw away simple cash purchase receipts such as supermarket cash register receipts. They have no information at all about you. You can even throw out receipts that just have your name and address on them. Your name and address are already on record and accessible by everyone and anyone. If the receipt shows the last four digits of your credit card number or Social Security number and it is not signed, you can throw it away.
Shred It Right
Inexpensive strip shredders just cut your documents lengthwise, and today’s pros can put them together again and get your information very easily. Spend a bit more and get yourself a cross-cut, confetti or diamond-cut shredder. Alternately, you can incinerate your sensitive documents in your fireplace or barbecue grill, but make sure they’re reduced to ash.
For help sorting through your pile of receipts, contact Organize Me!
Click here for the full article: Budget.thenest.com