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I had to move my dad to assisted living and mother to memory care this past fall and now I'm stuck with cleaning the catastrophic hoarder mess out and getting it sold. I have had pretty much no help and I am so angry and resentful for being stuck with this dirty, stinky, embarrassing mess. They both were very uncaring growing up and well into my adulthood, which only adds to it. I am the only living child and so it's all mine to deal with on top of having a full time job and taking care of my own family, etc.

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I don't know if this is an option for you but we sold my hoarder uncle's place as is, the house was a tear down anyway.
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That is what I intend to do with my mom.

If they find something valuable it will be a gift to them for willingly tackling the job.
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Is 1-800-gotjunk an option?
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FloridaDD Apr 2020
I found they were expensive, but they do get the job done. The advertise how they cut your costs by taking some stuff to re-sellers or charities.  In my mom's case that is unrealistic.  Good luck
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rent a dumpster,, use it. That is what I did.
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I had to do the very same thing all by myself about five years ago; my Mom had Alzheimer's, and I had no idea how bad the hoarding situation had gotten. It's a monumental, emotional drain. I spent three weeks straight inside that house, sleeping on the floor, and worked straight through for three weeks to go through her four bedroom, three bathroom house (with a full garage, basement, and porch stacked up about five feet high in every direction). I came up with a game plan for the house, and knew my goal was to rent it out by XYZ date, so that was a great incentive to get it cleaned up. Please message me back if you would like an outline of how I organized the clean-up. Basically, you need to decide on how many piles or subsets you will need, and designate certain areas of the house for each sorting area. Charity, Auction, Storage, Trash, Take to Mom, and Shred were my sorting sets. Please message me if you would like the details; I don't want to bore anyone with the layout or planning stages. You will need six or seven large tarps (different colored tarps work best).
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kittykatt Apr 2020
The details of your plan would be very welcome. I was going to try and sell some of it, but the amount of work it would take to clean each piece vs the small amount I would get, if I could even come up with a buyer, is starting to not look like it's even going to be worth it. Having an end date to shoot for to have it all done is a great idea also. It's beyond overwhelming and I just want it done and over with.
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I haven't had to do it yet because my Mother is still living in it, but when she passes away I plan on renting a couple of dumpters and throwing everything out. Top to bottom goes in the dumpster. My Mother already has money from the insurance company for a new roof and a new picture window to be replaced. After I throw everything in dumpsters i will hire the merry maids to clean the house from top to bottom and sell the house. The neighborhood and the lot it sits on is worth 50,000 not including the house. Just throw everything out.
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A huge semi arrived at my house and unloaded so many boxes that it filled my entire two care garage all the way to the top and reached to all sides. Then, another blow...she told me a day before the truck was arriving that she could not pay for it (nor the car that was in the way as well. Thinking I was being a good daughter, and because I didn’t want her to lose all of her possessions and I increased my cc limit to pay for it. Well....it was nearly $10.000 in all. She has been with me three years now and I’m 2019, we got a junk guy from the AMPM parking lot and through all that shit on his truck. Now, at least the garage is clear and I can park my car inside again after three years! We’ve gotten all the rest of the boxes to her room and out of the house, but that’s how she chooses to live in her room. Once in awhile, I’m able to get a few boxes out here and there, and I immediately take those to donation because if not she will put it right back. Had to take control of my house back again!! I keep minimal stuff in my home, as I don’t want my son to go through the same issue if at all possible. Now trying to pay the $10,000 bill!
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Okay, I'm back. I promised I would explain my process, so here it is. I bought six or seven tarps (home depot or lowe's), took a few days to figure out how many piles or subsets of crap would be necessary, and how large those piles would need to be. I knew I would need a professional shredding company, since Mom's hoarding specialty was documents/important papers. She had saved checks in boxes from the 1970's; she had saved divorce papers from my Dad in 1972; she had multiple investment accounts and had paper receipts from every single trade. I found important documents, such as the deed to her house and car, and property surveys on land she owned in Missouri. I found hate notes from two of her brothers, a stash of 2$ bills in the basement, a photo album of her second ex-husband who molested me (she didn't protect me when I told her), and notebooks filled with her hypergraphia ramblings.
I decided on the following subsets: Trash, Auction, Charity, Take to Mom, Safety Deposit Box, Storage, and Shred. Each subset took up about half of a room in itself, and once nearly completed, I separated it by covering it with a tarp and physically separated the areas so it would be easier to keep working and separating. Storage rental is useful for "tough to let go" items, and set a time limit on how long those items can stay; the rental rates can creep up and add up over time.
Put on your business hat, and try to think of your goal in mind, which is to get everything sorted and cleared by a specific date for a reason. If you're going to sell, spring and summer are always the best times; you might have a bit of time on your side this year with the pandemic and all. Rentals tend to be hot commodities at the end of seasons, such as the end of spring, summer, fall (not so much), and winter.
Is your marriage really intact? Be careful about what your spouse sees if you have any doubt in your mind. It sounds like he isn't being helpful. I purposefully kept my spouse out of the process, because I had just asked for a divorce, and did not want him trying to claim any of my Mom's assets. It was very difficult to do it all alone, yet, four years later, I'm still glad I did not accept his help in the sorting process. He tried to go behind my back and hire a lawyer to claim ownership of some of Mom's assets, even though we had agreed to use a mediator for our divorce.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have bothered with an "auction" pile; it was an insult to get the little checks for months afterwards (they picked up auction items and sold them at their auction house separately). I would have ordered a roll-off trash bin from city services, instead of using 1800 got junk. They showed up in a small junk truck and charged over 400$. The only benefit there was that they lifted and dumped heavy items that I probably wouldn't have been able to lift and dump into a roll-off by myself.
Whew! Well, that's probably enough information to get you started. Hopefully, you are motivated to get through it all. Her house was worth about 330 when I took over her affairs; now it's worth nearly 500. I've also been making over 20 per year in rental income; my mother didn't have a mortgage. Do you have POA and a trust in place?
Let me know if you have questions or would like further information. Take care and think it over; this could be a blessing in disguise for you.
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kittykatt Apr 2020
Thanks very much for the info. I like the tarp idea. I think that would work really well for the garage especially. There are literally hundreds of hammers, wrenches, screw drivers, etc thrown all over the place, on top of I have no idea what else because I can't get in the door. The tools might sell but the little odds and ends in the house aren't worth the effort. I also have about a half dozen vehicles and tractors to get rid of. Not worth renting the house as it is in huge disrepair, needs a well, septic system, etc. I already have filled a huge dumpster and hopefully can get another one brought in this week. My finish date is hopefully going to be April 30. And I do have POA and lawyer is working on trust although I doubt I will ever see any of it since my mother is starting to slowly look like she will be heading toward a nursing home. I'm so looking forward to having this behind me.
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I have cleaned out one house and helped with another.

Its overwhelming. So I did it one room at a time. Starting with the attic and working down. It was a 4 bedroom farm house.

The very first thing I did was get rid of trash. That left the stuff to sort. Give away or keep.

Everything in the attic went. We have bulk pickup here so everything was lined up out front. Since Mom was on a main road, there were trash pickers. Then the room Mom used for storage because she couldn't get up to the attic. My sister had died 20 yrs before and Mom had her stuff. I had piles, trash and keep. For pictures I had a box for each kid. Their pictures and their family pictures went into the box with their name on it and anything I came across of theirs.

Since my disabled nephew still lived there, I sorted thru the kitchen stuff and left him what he needed. I was able to do the rest when he moved out. He took some of the furniture, the rest was thrown out. I gave things to a local thrift shop. Clothes went into clothing/shoe boxes. Brother came and got what he wanted. I did not have a yard sale. It either got thrown out or given away.

Be aware though, the house has to be sold for Market Value if u ever think Medicaid will be needed.
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kittykatt Apr 2020
Thank you. I was aware of the house needing to be sold for fair market value, but I have had numerous relatives and neighbors coming by trying to talk me into a huge discount. I have a cousin that I've had no contact with in probably a decade who was hurling all kinds of insults at me about the place being a pile of junk and she wanted a big "family discount", So many people seem to think I'm not aware of what things are. I had to grow up in this mess.
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Just a comment on junk haulers:   the 1-800 places have standard rates for a standard sized trailer.    The one I hired took all the metal first; it happened so quickly I didn't realize until later that, given limited space, they took something that could be recycled, albeit the rates for metal were low.   

The guys were cooperative, but I was shocked when one pointed out where I could add a tip when they were through.   I thought that was really cheeky.

I interviewed others and ended up with J-Dog, a Veteran owned company, which far and away exceeds any others I called or hired.    Their crew was far more experienced and prepared for disassembling large items (a trailer, specifically) to get it in the dumpster.   

Being military or having family that grew up in a military environment, they had a much broader approach, analyzed, set up a plan and implemented it.   It was an operation, not just a junk removal job.

I was impressed, so much that they're the only company I'd ever hire again for that kind of job.  

The last time they came, there was even an active duty Marine on leave who helped out.   What other company could someone find with a solider who spends his leave helping others?

I should add that one of the companies I contacted was a well known clean-up company for a specific insurance company that hired companies for disaster cleanup.   They sent out a kid to "estimate" the cost, who told me that they would have a meeting of about 8 people to decide on a plan.   That sounded more like a specific large auto company operation - bogged down.

(Anyone who remembers Ross Perot would probably remember his description of how he would manage a problem vs how a bureaucratic Big 3 would handle it.)

This was the second time I had contacted that company; the first time was with a different franchise in a different area; they were OUTSTANDING!    But they weren't comfortable committing to such a large project as they wanted to be available for disasters, which at the time were readily occurring.

Another disaster remediation company was more interested in cleaning out a workshop with valuable equipment.   I could hear the "ka ching" ringing in his plans.  
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kittykatt Apr 2020
Good to hear about J Dog. They are in this area and seem highly rated so I will keep them in mind.
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KittyKatt, I encountered a similar problem with people who thought they would get either the contents free or the house at a discount.  I was surprised how many of them took this approach.  

One told me what she wanted (free of course), another had his eye on a boat motor and possibly the boat (free of course), and so on.   Typical approach was that the items weren't in good condition, so they'd have to be discarded anyway.  (If that was, true, why would they want them?)

I turned down offers of help b/c I knew they would not be entirely free; the offering person would want to take his/her pick of what was available.

It surprised how bold and greedy some people can be.
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kittykatt Apr 2020
Same here - I turned down offers of help because I started to feel like people were being unusually friendly when I had previously had minimal to no contact with them previously. The cousin offered very sweetly multiple times to come help clean things out, but as time went by, it became apparent that she had ulterior motives and could care less about me or parents as evidenced by the cruel attack. This has been quite the learning experience.
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I'm glad someone else mentioned the "picker" mentality. I had plenty of nosey neighbors orbiting around Mom's house. I was, literally and figuratively, eyebrow-deep in filth, confusion, memories, and resentment. It burned no less than a wasp-sting when a neighbor stealthed up behind me in the garage and proclaimed that my Mom was " always a weird lady". Thanks, Buddy! I've got a bit of a jump start on you when it comes to knowing the depths of my Mom's weirdness. Yep; got that all locked down. No, her snow-thrower and tools are not up for grabs at this time; she's visiting some cousins...(or whatever I told that opportunistic knucklehead). I censored that myself/ you're welcome, aging care.
A couple of cousins and unknown relatives came out of the woodwork (what a nice surprise!, I thought at first...). I entertained their requests, yet quickly came to my senses and brushed them off like flies at a barbeque.
For legal protection, do not allow any unlicensed people to tramp around the premises; twisted ankles, falls, kids eating lead paint, whatever you can think of... someone might try to sue. My property manager gave me the heads up on getting the swing set/slide removed. Never rent or sell a property with anything in place with which someone could come back and haunt you with a lawsuit.
You can negotiate with the real estate agents at this time; selling is in a slump; don't agree to the six percent. I hope this information has been helpful; I understand the overwhelming pain. It will get better once you have the place cleared out; you won't believe what you were capable of until you finish! Lots of good advice and information here from other posters!
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Well I have inherited a hoarder house and although it may be a big stinky mess. I was homeless. So I actually appreciate it. I'm very burnt out as I have to occupy this place whilst I have to fight the overflow of things. Sorting what I need from trash to donations and selling what I can. So I guess one man's horror story could be another person's blessing.
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Not that you need more things to consider but in my area of northern Illinois, Habitat for Humanity takes garden tools and also household tools. They give them to recipients of houses. They do have a resale shop so maybe they sell some too. Our local garden center is a collection point for garden tools. My father in law was a master gardener and had lots of tools. I was happy to find some organization to donate to as they were well loved items. Good luck with this project. My in-laws were not hoarders but that had lived in this house since 1957 and they had a lot of stuff.
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kittykatt Apr 2020
Great idea for the tools. I will definitely keep it in mind. Thanks for the info.
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Unfortunately this is a bad time to try to clear anything out.
Most municipalities with the garbage pick up are not taking any large items at this time and all of the places you would normally donate items to are closed.
So you are pretty much limited to bagging things for disposal, maybe getting a "Bagster" or ordering a Dumpster.
And also unfortunately you are in a position where gloves, masks and other protective equipment you should use is not readily available.
So for now do a little at a time, don't stress because there is not much you can do to speed up the clean out.
Once restrictions have been lifted maybe the easiest thing to do would be to get in one of the "Junk removal" companies and just let them clear everything out.
By the way the cost for a Bagster, Dumpster or the Junk removal people should NOT be paid by you but come from your fathers account.
And as long as none of the items holds any sentimental value having someone else clear out things might be the best way to go.
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Don't u just love people. TG no one came looking for freebies from Mom. But then, that Aunt was dead.

With MIL my BIL, POA, was at my MILs house with other BIL and wives. They invited neighbors over for drinks. They had been good to my MIL. One couple asked to buy some furniture and price was agreed on. Other neighbor said nothing. Had even stood out in front of the house talking to BIL alone. BIL hired a woman to run an estate sale. He gave her a list of what one couple had purchased. My in-laws went back to their homes in other states and left the estate lady on her own. No sooner did my in-laws leave, and the 2 neighbors were back asking for stuff that they had not purchased saying MIL had promised it to them. Estate lady looked at the list BIL gave her and said the family had left no orders. Just what they had bought. The one neighbor insisted that his daughter was promised a bedroom suite for helping to clean. Sorry, MIL promised a lot of people things. Estate lady stood her ground. This was the neighbor who had been talking to BIL earlier and never said anything about a bedroom suite.
And...he claimed to be a devout Christian.

They come out of the woodwork.
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Midkid58 Apr 2020
IMHO, people who ARE devout Christians don't need to tell people that they are.

The truth always comes out.
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I think I posted this on a similar thread but not here...yet.    One of the neighbors called me one day and said there was a woman at Dad's house with a shovel.    When another neighbor asked her what she was doing, she said she was digging up some Lunaria to take for herself.

She was told she should ask me first, so the other neighbor called me and I spoke with the would be thief.     She just said she had seen the flowers, liked them and was just going to dig some up for herself.     There was no mention of my father's death, plans for the house, or just plain honesty.

I told her I'd think about the issue and call her, which I never did.    If it wouldn't been a nuisance for police, I would have reported her for attempted larceny of plants.   But I would never burden law enforcement with something like that.


Another neighbor continued to use the concrete pad Dad created for his truck, despite having been asked in writing not to do so.    Earlier this year I noticed that he had driven past the pad, front of his truck must have been on the grass, and deep ruts had been created.   

If he hasn't fixed and filled the ruts by the next time I go out, I plan to find (if I can) some posts and a chain to create a blockade.


It's hard enough to lose a family member, to deal with the post-death asset disposition issues, but to have to deal with inconsiderate, selfish idiots is perhaps the worst.

This factor, probably more than any other, is the motivating factor to just get things resolved and move forward with my life.    But now, there's the virus and it won't be possible to even have my favorite contractor return to help.
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Grandma 1954 has the right idea. That is the way I would do it. The professionals have seen it all so don't be embarrassed. Hang in.
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Thank you everyone for all of your great input and support. You all have given me many good ideas and just having some positive support makes it all seem doable :)
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You might also want to have some cash on hand when it gets closer to trash pick up/haul dates. I closed off the entire garage and put a local ad on craigslist "FREE STUFF" A reseller guy showed up within 10 minutes with a good-sized trailer; of course he picked out what he wanted, and another guy was right behind him picking what he wanted; well, his truck was only half full; I paid him 40$ cash to take the rest of everything in that garage. The deal was, you take EVERYTHING in this garage and you get the cash. Much cheaper than paying the 1-800 got junk guys. I immediately took down the craigslist ad; it only took a total of about 30 minutes to have EVERYTHING GONE. Just make sure you have already picked through everything and you're really ready to see it all go. Of course, nobody goes into the main part of the house; just confined to the garage. I was kind of proud of myself for how well that worked. Just another idea; much quicker than waiting for city services to pick up the hideous bedknobs and broomsticks furniture that is worthless for resale value, unless you're willing to wait around for a very special buyer.
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Is it possible to go through the house and remove everything you want and leave the rest behind? Our local fire department was once looking for a "hoarder's house" to burn for training. You said the house has little value. Maybe you could check with the local fire departments and see if they want to burn it down.
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We did this last spring at my MIL’s house. We calculated it took 9 people weeks and 3 long dumpsters. We did what we could, moved what she wanted to the AL facility, and then called the pros. There are companies that will clean the house out, get it ready for an estate sale, collect any important papers for you, find the stuff that has value that may be able to go to an auction house. We found them thru the geriatric care manager we hired (she’s in NJ, we’re in TX). They were great to work with. They put in as a group, about 10 more people weeks and 3 more dumpsters. They set up the estate sale. A certain percent of the proceeds they took off the top. They also understood that we wouldn’t have any money until the house sold, and were very patient. If you don’t have the time, patience, or energy, hire a company and concentrate on helping you folks adjust, and helping you adjust.
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You can hire a “home organizer” to help expedite the process and take a huge burden off of your hands. I’m so sorry.
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I am sorry you are having to deal with the mess alone. Do not feel embarrassed - you did not create the mess, encourage the mess, or ignore the mess. You did the right thing to get your parents into better living situations. You have several options to clean the house out: do it alone (which may take a long, long time and put your health at risk), enlist the help of friends (which will take less time but everybody should wear masks and gloves), or hire professionals to do the job (costs more but done sooner). After the clean out is completed and the disinfecting is done, you have the happier job of painting and probably putting in new flooring. Go with neutral colors and it should sell quickly. The housing market has not slowed down during the pandemic.
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DUMPSTER. Sort as you throw!
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A lot s great answers to help you. The only thing I can add is the lady at our bank said a lot of seniors keep money in old prescription bottles. YOu might check them if you think you need to.
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Frances73 Apr 2020
Yes! My mom kept quarters in old film canisters.
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Oh baby, I hear you! I had to clear out my parents home of 57 years last year. I could tell you stories about the weirdness I found! Luckily I had a sense of humor about it and spent a lot of time imagining the "why" of some of the things I found.

Sure, there was a lot of ick finding mouse droppings and corpses in cupboards. I also found myself feeling so sorry for the loss of the hopes and dreams that certain things represented. It was sad seeing the evidence of their mental and physical decline.

All that being true, it was very cathartic cleaning things out and getting the house sold. I suggest you be watchful, I found a lot of money, valuable, and documents hidden away. I also hired an auction company to sell pretty much everything that wasn’t trash.
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Hi kittykat, and everyone who has posted. Oh how I wish I had sourced such great advice given here when I was going through this... for my MIL and my parents at the same time in different cities... and with all the same kind of low-downright nasty stuff from family, 'friends', and complete strangers, mentioned by so many of you. It completely burnt me out.

So all I will add, is to please make sure you take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, get some supportive counselling if you think it would help, eat well, take vitamins to keep your energy up, and know that it will come to an end.

A wonderful man, who helped me with with some of the essential repairs to make my parents' house safe for sale, said to me one day, "always always remember, for every problem there is a solution". He was a big big man, and said it to me in such a tender way... and it just helped me so much.

Big hug to you.
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In my honest opinion, this task can't be accomplished by you alone. Good grief, no! You should look into hiring professionals.
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Hiring a professional organizer and ordering a dumpster for a week saved me so much time and stress. Highly recommended.
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As I was physically unable to do all the moving when I closed up my parents house, I made an arrangement with a local moving company to utilize their employees "unscheduled" time. For example, the crew would be booked all day to move a household and completed the move in less than 6 hours; I would get a call and they would then come by my parents' house to work for 2 hours. My parents were not hoarders, just had a very full house after 60+ years of living so I was able to identify and throw out most of the dumpster stuff early - like old newspapers and contents of kitchen/bath cabinets and pantry. I boxed and moved into storage a lot of the paper/documents and even some drawer contents for later sorting; this helped get it out quickly with the mover helpers.
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BlackHole Apr 2020
Excellent idea!
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