Interview with Michelle Passoff, author of the book: LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter, March 16, 2011.
l. What advice do you give to “boomers” to clean out their parent’s estate within 30 days or less? (not in years)
A. The first thing is to adopt an attitude about the task at hand that empowers your parents and you, whether you are cleaning out for a move or after a death. If you resist, this job will be a burden. If you create a positive approach it can be loving, enriching and even fun.
B. Next, decide if you have the time and know-how to do the clean out alone or with family and friends. If not, don’t hesitate to call a professional clutter consultant or senior moving specialist. If you want to clean out and sell the entire contents of the home, hire a company such as ours: FREE FROM CLUTTER ESTATE SALES based in Tampa. An estate sale doesn’t cost any money upfront. The fees for an estate sale company are a percentage of the proceeds from the sale – usually 25% to 35%. It is a great way to make the most money on the contents of the home. You can donate the proceeds to a charity of choice or put it to the best use by your family.C. If you decide to clean out on your own, then you must do the obvious – schedule time. Be ambitious with allotments of time and enlist the help of family and friends. First, have the family pluck what they want to keep and then systematically toss garbage, group like-kind things together, and get the contents of the house ready for a do-it-yourself sale or to consign, donate or auction everything elsewhere.
2. What are one or two common problems and your solutions to helping loved ones divide and distribute a family estate peacefully and sensibly? Without dividing the family in the process?
My best advice is to employ a few life-long practices which will enhance your experience of being alive and which will make the settlement of your estate easier on everyone when you are gone: Be clutter free; keep a home inventory; document your photos and life stories as you go; and have a will which specifies to whom you want to bequeath your money and your personal possessions (about 65 percent or more people die without one). Instead of making these things the last on your to-do list, elevate them to the top. Discuss your plans with your family beforehand and assign an executor of your estate who has integrity and will carry out your wishes. Rest in peace that if you take these measures, you are likely to lessen, if not eliminate, conflict. Even if conflict ensues, it won’t be due to your negligence and you are likely to get the last word.
3. What are some of your organization tips in dealing with a lifetime accumulation of stuff?
My best advice to anyone dealing with a ‘lifetime accumulation of stuff’ is to get help. If you haven’t lead a clutter-free lifestyle on your own up to this point, chances are you are not going to start now all by yourself. But, don’t think for a minute that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Get a ‘teacher’. It is never too late. Our company, LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter, is a clutter cleaning service which teaches people the principles and practices (all covered in my book) to apply. You success is guaranteed. Hire us or a professional like us to help guide you. Make up your mind that you are ready for change; schedule time each week to clean; be systematic in your approach – go from one end of a room to the other, not overlooking anything and dealing with everything along the way. Never give up hope; you can do it!
4. What are the keys to your success?
The key to my personal success is that I bucked conformity when it was appropriate to focus on what I really wanted rather than on ‘fitting in’. I’ve been bold and resourceful about addressing personal obstacles and getting the help of others to remove them.
5. What have some of your de-cluttering/estate sales experiences taught you?
Cleaning clutter in the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical space is a little-known and under-used life management tool. It is not mundane; it is sublime. Toys are nice; choose them judiciously. But experiences are golden. Set goals and do the best you can!
Michelle Passoff founded FREE FROM CLUTTER ESTATE SALES with her husband and partner, Andre Kupfermunz. They divest of the entire contents of a home after death, divorce or in the event of a move on behalf of their clients. Their estate sale business and their clutter consulting and cleaning service are based in Tampa, Florida. They can be reached at www.freefromclutter.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 813-453-1944.