What should I keep when cleaning out Dad’s house?

Don’t sell, give away, or donate anything until a professional has looked at it.  So many Boomers throw away or give away personal possessions worth a fortune, simply because they don’t know the values.  Tell everyone “no” until the appraiser has reviewed everything.  The cost to pay a personal property appraiser is nothing compared to what you could find, not to mention the peace of mind it will offer you!

Keep the following:

  • Anything that can provide family history.
  • Family heirlooms if they are wanted and will be cherished.  Don’t force heirlooms on the children if their hearts aren’t in it.
  • Evaluate all items of perceived monetary value (hire that appraiser).
  • Some family photographs.
  • Items that are rare or unusual (some antiques fall into this category) IF someone has room for them and wants them.  It’s ok to sell if no one wants them.
  • Jewelry — have it appraised first.
  • Items with historic significance — may donate if no family member wants them.
  • Important documents must be kept together until they are all sorted through by the executor.
  • Collections: gold, coins, guns, stamps, etc.  Always have them evaluated by a professional.
  • Antiques, artwork, paintings, sculpture — must be evaluated by a professional.
  • Military items.  Not only are these items sought after by collectors but may also be vital to family history.
  • Safes, safety deposit boxes, and their contents. 
  • Anything you cannot identify.

Don’t take things just to take them.  Select a few sentimental items that are small enough for you to use or display in your home.  Great family and marital strife can develop if you take too much.  Remember, the more you take now, the more your children will have to deal with later.

© 2010 Julie Hall

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