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Life Demands Space®: What to Do When a Family Member Passes Away

The death of a loved one is a tumultuous time. Depending on the circumstances, there are a lot of emotions and a full checklist of things to do. In the aftermath of this loss, many people will seek to handle the immediate decisions—final wishes and funeral expenses—but will be at a loss as to how to handle some of the more complex parts, such as estate settling.

As part of the grieving process, attention must be turned toward how to deal with what’s left behind. People accumulate lots of things throughout their lives, and something will need to be done with them. Some choose to donate, while others divide these items up between remaining family members or friends. Let’s look at some common solutions to the question of what to do with a loved one’s belongings and how renting a self storage unit can give you the space and time to answer some of these difficult questions.

Seek out a will or other estate planning documents first.

An estate planning document

Before you start selling, donating, or dividing up the belongings in the home of your recently departed loved one, look for any documents that may explain their wishes. This isn’t just because it’s nice to know what they would have wanted. In many cases, there are legitimate legal ramifications to not following the directives outlined in a last will and testament. These documents will often name an executor of the estate who will ensure that items and inheritances go where they’re supposed to.

If there isn’t a will, in some cases the deceased’s property will end up in probate, which is a costly and time-consuming legal process to divide assets. Most attorneys stress the importance of careful estate planning for this reason. If you’re able to find these documents, follow them as best as you can. Give heirlooms and antiques to the people named in the will.

If you plan on transferring property, it’s best to do so with legal assistance. Real estate transactions can be very complex, which makes having experts on-hand to answer your questions a practical necessity.

Divide up their remaining belongings as you wish.

No one wants the process of dividing up belongings to turn into a free-for-all, but it may be helpful to create an inventory and decide on a process for claiming them. If you’re the lone person responsible (or willing) to take on this property, you may need to give yourself some additional time to sort through everything. If you live near the loved one, it may make sense to continue paying utilities for a short time and taking one day or more for the next few weeks to go through things.

Enlist an estate sale company to help facilitate liquidation of the estate.

If you know you want to sell some of the belongings left behind but don’t have the time or energy to invest in planning and holding a sale, an estate sale company can help. These companies are often staffed by experts who will sort through and price any and all belongings you want to sell. They then host the sale—either on-site or at a retail location—and take a cut of any profits. At the sale’s conclusion, you’re left with all unsold merchandise. A good estate sale company won’t just provide fair pricing, but they’ll also take photographs of any notable collectibles or items.

What should I do if I don’t have time to sort through belongings right now?

A father and a son hugging each other.

The death of a loved one is never convenient, but it’s especially taxing in the context of your own life’s responsibilities. We’re all busy and have our collection of responsibilities, which makes it difficult to plan time to work through the process of grief and how to respectfully take care of your loved one’s assets and belongings.

In times like these, finding a convenient space to temporarily store those items can make a big difference, especially if you are on a timetable to vacate an apartment or rental house. Finding affordable storage can make the process even easier, and Prime Storage is more than happy to help.

Visit Prime Storage When Life Demands Space®

We understand how difficult and confusing it can be when a loved one passes on or when other life challenges occur. If you’re not ready to let go of some items because of memories or concerns about value, we can help you keep those belongings in a space that won’t take up space in your home. You don’t have to make an immediate decision on how to move on. Renting a storage unit for the short- or long-term can help you plan for next steps.

To learn more about how self storage can help you stay organized during this or any other life transition, contact your nearest Prime Storage facility today.

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