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Annie’s Mailbox: Work on clutter hour at a time

Thu., Jan. 16, 2014

Dear Annie: In the past five years, my parents, in-laws and an uncle passed away. My uncle lived in the same house for 40 years and kept everything. I took off a lot of time from work to go through his mountains of paperwork and paid a lot of money to have his place cleaned out. I’d like to offer some advice:

If you are over 55 or in poor health, please start decluttering your home now. Even if you are in good health, you could have an accident or suddenly become ill. Start with one hour per week and work on one closet or room. Many charities will pick up your unused, serviceable things. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity desperately need clean, decent furniture and household items.

Trust me, your children don’t want your old knickknacks. Save the family photos, and get your kids and grandkids to come over and pick out a few things they will truly treasure. Make sure you have a will and a list somewhere of life insurance policies, bank accounts and so forth, and give a copy to your lawyer or a trusted relative. If there are family heirlooms, include in your will who gets what.

Stop collecting stuff and collect memories instead. Visit your friends and relatives while you can. Take that special trip you’ve always dreamed of. Don’t leave a mess for those who care about you the most. – No Clutter Nancy

Dear Nancy: Most people find it overwhelming to go through 40 years’ worth of clutter, papers, knickknacks, old clothing and what have you. Your advice to start with one hour in one closet or room is smart, and we hope people (of all ages) will add it to their resolutions for the year. They won’t regret it.

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