What should I do with the contents of Mom’s home?

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I am sad to say that my sweet Mom passed away a few weeks ago. I have been working to empty her home of things people may need, particularly after the hurricane. I’ve given towels, sheets, blankets, clothing, toiletries (unopened) to goodwill... but my head is spinning and I feel disorganized, disoriented and like I just don’t know what to do with things. There is so MUCH. Some garbage, some very good long family history/memories.

There are three siblings, so the furniture, paintings/pictures, rugs and mementos must be distributed. I put together an excel spreadsheet of each room in the house and sent it to my brother and sister. My brother wants two things and my sister hasn’t replied yet. It’s too soon for her... but I know there will be things left over. What do I do? Is there a good process for deciding/dividing among ourselves how to take good care of the lovely things my dear Mom left?

Anyone who knows of good resources and good processes for this, I would appreciate hearing from you. I am doing the best I can, but I’m sure you know better and have some very good experiences for me about what works and what does not.

I’m looking forward to hearing your good ideas, your cautions and experiences so that I can learn from your wisdom. Right now I feel like I’m feeling around in the dark and I feel ill-equipped to complete this task. The one nice things is that I found old letters from my Mom to my Dad and they are very sweet and remind me how lucky we were to have them as parents.

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The spreadsheet sounds like a great idea with the prioritization if you have time and there are serious family members who would appreciate. In my situ, no one really wants anything. There are some old family photos that will be distributed among my brother and I; jewelry; furniture. My plan is to cash in jewelry (much of it good); distribute a few photos; and donate household goods/furniture to church to distribute to families in need or new settlement families. I thought about the yard sale; but too much work and I'd have to do everything and then split proceeds (doesn't sound fair).

One of you suggested all the old linens, towels, blankets, comforters, etc be donated to animal shelter...Fantastic idea and I endorse!! -- please do so if you can. A comforter can be cut up into large squares and re-sewn perfect for animals in need.

If you have old hats/purses/dresses/luggage, etc -- you may be able to take to vintage consignment shop. They will sort and send you checks as items sell. The other clothes, take to goodwill or pack for VA. They will sort and use what they can.
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When I had to place my mom into a room and board to her dementia, I was the on that had to go through the house and pack it up. It started with gettting rid of a lot of trash and furniture that the cat had ruined. I started basically the back den and packed up the books in the bookshalves and brought them to a used book store to have them buy mom moms books. I basically went from room to room, and set thing a side that my sister haas requested . My moms directive was to sell everything and spllt tjhe money. I got a dumpster for three days and filled it up with things that were too old to be sell., I had garage saids. And even stored thing in storage. My lawyer told me not to get rid of anthing valuable until after my mom is is dead, or the money of the sell of the house has been spent. I did it with the help of a handyman. I am still having nightmare about all the things and saw with no one to share it with. I was so stressed out and it was not healthy for me.
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Check for a furniture bank in your area. They supply furniture and household goods to help people start new lives. No pick up charge if you have at least one big piece. They are amazing and professional all the way. I'm in Central Ohio but there must be in other cities/states.
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One use we found for old linens (towels, bedding, etc) that was beyond real use (my mother never tossed anything) is your local animal shelter. We donated several bags of clean stuff. They are usually very happy to get it.
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Freecycle is a good option too if its available in your area.
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We had to do the estate sale thing once it was clear Mom could not go home again and we ran out of all other money for care...I rounded up what I could fit in my car of sentimental value, and let my heart break over selling all the good stuff...worst thing I ever had to do in my life. Write me privately if you want to hear any more details of what to expect/what to look for in estate sale professionals, but I'll just say make sure you keep anything that you really want to hold on to if you can because no single thing will get you very much dollar wise, and you may find the few things you pick out bring you a lot of comfort later on... they do leave the house more or less cleaned out so you can sell though.
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I don't know...I would do what you do - offer to family first. What no one wants, and you choose the option to sell it - I think you should keep the profit. Really, why do you have to do all the work? If family wanted the proceeds, then they should have chosen it when offered, and then sell it at their end. I mean, if you did all the work of caregiving, and now you're doing all the work of distributing her belongings, I think you should keep the proceeds. Enough is enough. If some siblings helped you (financial-wise), then they too should also share the proceeds. Because whatever income you make, I'm sure you can apply it for some bill of your mother's that will come to you later on a few weeks or months from now. If selling is going to cause an uproar, then go to donating to charity. Is there a caregiving service there that might know an elderly-in-need? Sooozi - I'm so sorry about your mom. HUGS!!!
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Sooozi, at least they were willing to pay something. My family seems to think everything is free and if we run out of money I can pay for her care. I can't, of course, but since they are mostly unemployed, pot heads, what we make seems like a fortune. I think I'd rather have family that didn't want to think about it, yet. At one point, one of my nephews actually said to me "Grandma says she has $200,000!" Like that was a lot. Paying for ALF, nursing, sitters and drugs will eat that up so fast. But I wasn't fast enough taking control. Over $60,000 went up in smoke with grandchildren 'borrowing' money.
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Galoshes59... when my mom was alive we would say we could see the vultures circling. It was mostly non-family members who could come to her house and ask for stuff. My dad landed a huge blue marlin and had it stuffed and mounted on the wall. A guy who was here painting asked her for it. Seemed crazy to me at the time. Also, the owner of her hair salon told her he would like to have her car! Seriously, it was like vultures waiting for her to die. She didn't act like she noticed, but it made me feel creepy ... (we have many stories like that...) so I feel like I know what you mean.

None of those people were there when she needed to be taken to the hospital or cared for on a daily basis. I bet when we have a garage sale, they will be back.
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Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and insight. I actually don't know what my siblings will want, but I'm pretty sure if I sell it later, they will want part of the cash. I'm OK with that at this point, but if I'm doing all the leg work, as with some of the questions care givers ask, do I get paid to do all of this? Right now we are switching from regular home owners insurance to vacant insurance for an LLC (where the house will now be owned by the 3 sibs). It is a pretty big job to find out when the roof was updated, how old the boiler and hot water heater are and if the electric have been updated. If I had known these would be the questions, I would have asked mom and would have kept records. Now I'm finding that I have to go on a hunt... kind of wish I had thought of asking this question a few years ago.

As someone said above, I bet it is a lot easier if parents decide which kid gets what big item, so that there are only small things to worry about later.... I feel like many of you do... it's a lot of work. I just want to do a good job and not blow it. Thanks again for your insights and stories. They are all very, very helpful and help me anticipate what is still to come. Thank you!!!
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