Cleaning out an estate can take a lot of time, patience, and money. There are many decisions that need to be made in order to effectively and efficiently clean out an estate. Here are some ways to help you determine how much estate cleanouts cost.
After the benefactors and heirs have been determined and an executor of the estate has been named, it is important to identify the assets of the estate. Inventories of the estate may be required and are certainly helpful. The estate assets should be clearly marked and assigned a destination (mail to a family member, take to attorney’s office, hold for benefactor pickup, sell for the estate, etc). The destination of the asset may change as the estate gets closer to closing, but properly marking them is important for identification. Depending upon the size of the estate, this can be the most expensive phase of the cleanout, but generally makes the estate the most money. Estate cleanout costs for identifying, inventorying, and dispensing assets will vary greatly. Many asset identification and relocation costs will range from $2000-$10,000. The cost for liquidating the assets can vary greatly. Some companies charge by the hour to sort, clean, box, transport and sell the items. Estate sale companies generally have hourly rates and commission rates once the items sell. Auction companies generally have a commission paid to the auctioneer, while the buyer generally pays a buyer’s premium. Determining the value of an estate should help you pic a liquidation strategy. Just because the cost for liquidating the assets is less doesn’t mean that the method will save you money.
Another cost of estate cleanouts is locating and sorting important paperwork. Deeds, wills, titles, insurance policies, etc. should be saved and given to the executor of the estate. Other paperwork, such as electric bills, mortgage, water bills, medical bills, and other bills with account numbers and/or social security numbers should be discussed with the executor. Many times, this paperwork should be properly disposed of. Shredding is an inexpensive option for safely disposing of small or large amounts of paper files. Additionally, most shredding companies can safely dispose of computers and computer hard drives. Shredding companies generally charge by the pound, and some companies have minimum charges. Many estate shredding charges range from $50-$200.
Some items have minimum value, or may cost more to sell or dispose of than they are worth. Donating items is a great way to save money on cleanout costs. Many donation companies can send out a box truck to pick up items from a home to sell at their retail location. However, many companies schedule pickups at least a week in advance and have policies about what they can and cannot pick up. Most companies will allow you to take items to their retail locations if pickup services are not available. Most donation companies do not charge for picking up donations, so using a company that specializes in estate cleanouts can save you time and money.
Disposing of trash and debris can be overwhelming, especially when there is a lot. Estimating the amount of trash and debris at the beginning of estate cleanouts takes a lot of skill and experience. Renting a roll-off container can be helpful, but each county regulates the type of material that can go into the container. There can be steep fines for placing items into a container that are not permitted by the container company or landfill. Roll-off container rental rates vary greatly, but many 30 yard containers range from $400 – $1200 each and many charge daily rental rates and additional rates per ton of material removed. Taking items to a local dump can save a lot of money, as many dumps are free to residents of the county, but can take an extremely long time. Taking items directly to a landfill may take more time, but may require much fewer trips. Landfills generally charge by the amount of weight and charge different amounts for construction and demolition debris (C&D) and municipal solid waste debris (MSW).
Many items in an estate that are initially marked as trash can be donated. Items such as electronics, automobile tires, gasoline/oil, antifreeze, paper products, plastic, linen, batteries, yard trimmings, glass, mattresses and metal can generally be recycled. Why is this important? Dumps and landfills may not take some, or all, of these items. However, many local landfills will have different areas for each of these items. Used mattresses, for example, cannot be donated in my state, so the local landfill has an area to place the mattresses. Once the truck is full of mattresses, they are removed from the landfill to be recycled. The same applies to the other items on this list. Check with your local dump and/or landfill to see which items can be separated from household trash and can be reused. When these items are recycled, the landfills tend to charge less, or not charge at all, for these items, therefore saving the estate money on disposal costs.
The following video shows a porch, shed, and yard cleanup. Notice the types of items that are likely not allowed in a roll-off container. For example, paint (only if it is wet), gasoline, cleaning chemicals, tires, electronics, metal, batteries, and mattresses cannot go in trash containers in Richland County. Call the local landfill and see what items they do not accept. There may be charges for each item though. For more informational videos like this, Subscribe to our YouTube channel HERE.
If the estate is a living estate and the occupant is moving into a retirement community or otherwise downsizing, hiring a Senior Move Manager may be your best option. The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) has a searchable database of current SMMs that may be able to help. NASMM members have a variety of credentials and experience. You can find a local senior move manager at www.nasmm.org. Senior move manger rates vary, as some SMMs do the work in-house and some subcontract out portions of the work to other companies. Most experienced senior move managers charge at least $85/hour. If you cannot find a local SMM on the NASMM website, check out the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net. Senior Move Management is a subset of professional organizing and NAPO may have certifications closely related to senior move management. Also, the Institute of Chronic Disorganization, or ICD, may be able to help you locate one as well. They also have a searchable database at www.challengingdisorganization.org.
Estate cleanouts can differ greatly, but these are some great ways to estimate costs when cleaning out an estate. After the cleanout is complete, some homes may require a deep cleaning. Most maid services and janitorial services do not provide enough attention to detail to properly clean a vacant home after it has been cleaned out. If roaches, bed bugs, mice, or other pests are in the home, a biohazard remediation company, hoarding company, or bed bug cleaning company may need to be hired to properly clean and disinfect the home. Deep cleanings generally run $.50 – $1.00 per square foot to clean, while biohazard remediation costs vary greatly.
Hoarded estates can be extremely difficult. The decision making process is similar; however, the general condition of the home may potentially be dangerous, the contents of the home may need cleaning and/or restoration cleaning and the cost of the preventative measures may not be financially viable, as those costs could be much larger than what the items would potentially sell for at auction. Companies should ALWAYS follow all OSHA guidelines for working in hoarded homes. For a list of OSHA guidelines, click this link www.osha.gov. For a brief overview, always follow the OSHA general duty clause, OSHA guidelines for respiratory protection, OSHA guidelines for eye protection, OSHA guidelines for fall protection, OSHA guidelines for hazardous materials and OSHA reporting for injuries. There are several third party organizations that can provide training for hoarding cleanup work. For more information on hoarding cleanup costs, click the blue link.
Estates with pests can be problematic. Depending upon the type of pest or pests present, you may need to hire a pest control company before you begin work. Pest control treatments vary due to the type of pests inside the home. For example, German cockroaches generally require multiple treatments, as the population can spread quickly and the initial treatments generally do not kill most of the eggs in the home. Bed bugs generally require a different type of pesticide, heat treatment, ozone treatment, fogging, bed bug prep, or a combination of these methods. Spiders generally require fogging but there are other methods available. Lice and scabies generally require a heat treatment and/or a few days to them to die. Bees and wasps generally require a spray treatment. Mice and/or rats could require several treatments AND cleaning AND disinfecting. Hiring an extreme cleaning company to perform bed bug cleaning, roach poop cleaning, lice and/or scabies heat treatments or rat poop disinfecting is highly recommended before the work starts.
Mike Young owns Palmetto Commercial Services, a company that has completed over 700 hoarding cleanups and over 250 estate cleanouts. Mike has been in business since 2009 and currently holds all 3 IICRC master certifications, the American Bio Recovery Association CBRT certification, and multiple other certifications. Mike has been writing cleaning service blogs since 2012. You can find other articles at www.palmettocommercialservices.com/cleaner-blog/ or on many other social media platforms.