How best to sort through and store inherited household contents.

inherited household contents


Handling an inherited house, especially one full of possessions, isn’t easy. We offer a guide to help you decide how to go about sorting and storing inherited household contents, as quickly and smoothly as possible.


Here we cover:

Practical considerations

There are practical and legal factors that you may have to consider when tackling the job of clearing out an inherited household.


Important documents

One of the first things you should do is go through the house and find any important documents. You might need to keep these for legal reasons.


File important papers somewhere safe until you’ve had time to sort through them and decide what needs to be archived.


Some examples of documents it’s important to find and keep are:

  • ID and passport
  • title deeds
  • bank cards and financial records (investments, tax records, debts and so on)
  • municipal and utilities bills
  • active insurance policies
  • active subscriptions and memberships
  • contact details you might be missing for family and friends.

Time constraints

Find out if there is a deadline for when the house needs to be cleared out. This might be due to a lease that has lapsed or because the house is being sold.


Knowing how much time you have will allow you to plan better.


Physical and emotional strain

Consider the best time to begin the sorting out and packing of the household contents.


Especially if a loved one has passed away, a lot of work may be involved in handling everything. Be sure not to overstrain yourself in an already stressful time. If you have people who can help, all the better.


Bequeathed items

Before you pack, store or sell any items, you’ll need to find out if they were bequeathed to someone.


If a loved one who has passed had a will, this will help clear up who should be inheriting which items. If there is no will, possession should still be discussed among the family and with the party that’s legally responsible for managing the estate.


How self-storage can help

If you’re not up to the task of sorting through all household contents yet, it may make sense to put items into storage until things have settled down. This way, you can meet any requirement to clear out the house – and you’ll know that the items are safe.


Once you feel ready to start sorting through belongings, give yourself plenty of time and ask friends or family members for help.


Don’t make any rash decisions about what to keep and what to sell. You can always keep items in storage for a few months longer until you decide for sure.


Alternatives for distributing household contents

There are some alternative approaches. Depending on circumstances, each has pros and cons.


Auctioning household contents

Provided no one else has a claim to the items, you can approach an auction house to take the entire household contents and auction them off.


This is a quick way to get rid of everything at once. However, it also means there’s no going back if you change your mind.


It might also mean having to accept a lower price than you’d originally hoped for (and a payment will go to the auctioneer).


Selling household contents

You can divide up household contents and sell items individually. However, this can be very time-consuming.


Having to place ads, respond to enquiries and meet up with interested parties can also be stressful.


It’s common to overestimate the value of the items in an estate. Partly, this is because of potentially big differences between new and second-hand values.


It can also be because of changing tastes.


As an example, you might have grown up regarding the family silver as a significant source of value. However, changing lifestyles may mean that now, it’s difficult to sell these items at all.


Generally, it’s good advice to single out only certain, higher value items for selling individually. An example might be an antique or an artwork by a well-known artist. Then have the items you plan to sell valued by a professional (and certified if possible) before proceeding.


Donating household contents

Donating some or all household items is also an option.


Make sure there are no claims on the items you want to donate.


Also, don’t rush the decision! If you’re too quick to get rid of everything, you might regret it later.


Good advice? Wait until the time is right. Sort through everything in your own time and when you’re not under significant stress. Let relevant family and friends do the same, especially where items may have sentimental value. Only then, decide on items to give away.


Many charitable organisations will collect bulk donations of goods. This can save you time and effort.


Keeping household contents

Make sure certain items aren’t bequeathed or due to be inherited by someone else. Then balance decisions to keep items against the space you have available.


Sometimes it’s better to hang onto things than to get rid of them too quickly.


This may make your home cluttered. But it gives you time to figure out what’s really useful or valuable to you, and what you’re ready to let go of.


Storage options with XtraSpace

At XtraSpace, we offer secure storage units in a range of sizes. Our units are perfect for storing inherited household contents until you decide what to do with them.


All our storage units are clean, pest-free and protected by alarms, access control, CCTV and security guards.


Browse to find your nearest XtraSpace branch or call us on 01 09 777 777 to discuss your needs.


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