Settling an estate a cautionary tale for collectors

Resources available to help downsizing, says Steinbring.

I recently returned from a month in the United States clearing my parents’ home and contents to finally settle their estate.

On hold for almost two years due to the pandemic, it was a job I dreaded … this is a cautionary tale for collectors.

The Steinbring family home is an 1850s octagon listed on both the state and federal registries of historic homes. All eight corners, every drawer, every closet and under every bed was stuffed with 115 years of Steinbring collections that spanned multiple interests: archeology, antiques, painting, sewing, books, music, china, glass, tools, etc.

It took over a week to organize the small stuff and get it into the barn for the daily garage sale before we could even start to assess the large items. A blacksmith with the local historical society helped us assess the contents of a room piled high with antique tools, and a family friend who deals in antiques helped us assess the overall contents of the house. I was prepared to pay someone to haul away thousands of books.

My husband, son and I did the initial planning, organizing and heavy lifting until my three brothers arrived for the final push to the end.

We filled a 40-yard disposal bin, refilled the free roadside pile daily, carted multiple loads to thrift stores and textile drop-off bins, and borrowed the remaining space in every neighbour’s weekly recycling and garbage. By the afternoon of the last day — everything was free.

I not-so-jokingly begged neighbours and friends not to do to their children what my parents did to us. At times, I lost hope we could finish the job within our tight window.

The sheer volume of stuff reflected my parents’ rich and vibrant lives of many interests and talents. It also weighed heavily on my mother when it became too overwhelming for her to manage. I anticipated the job with middle-of-the-night panic attacks.

There are multiple resources available to support senior downsizing and clutter clearing. A simple Google search leads to multiple resources in and around Hamilton.

We found many treasures and relived many happy memories.

Likewise, I’m sure many cherished treasures ended up in the bin — forgotten.

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