Clearing Out an Estate

We all know the importance of having a will. But what will happen to all of our stuff when we die? I like the example set by my aunt.

While my 91-year-old aunt had a will and had made funeral arrangements years in advance, she had taken her preparations a step further. For some time, she had asked friends and relatives which of her possessions they would like after her death. She wrote down the replies and made copies of the list. It included artwork, furniture, even her piano.

Although my aunt had no children, she had taught school for more than 30 years and remained close to many former students. She also had an extensive network of friends.

That list was extremely helpful when my family and I began clearing her apartment after her death. We arranged to have items picked up or shipped. Still remaining, however, were many things not specifically designated in her will, including books, sheet music and household and decorative items. Also left behind were many colorful outfits from Chico’s, my aunt’s favorite clothing retailer, and jewelry to match.

So we invited her friends and former students to see everything not on her list so they could have something by which to remember my aunt. That worked really well.

We donated everything that was left.  But thanks to my aunt’s advance planning, the potentially difficult process of dispensing with a lifetime’s possessions was made much easier.


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