I got a call the other day. It didn't shock me and actually I was expecting it. An elderly man that I tried to help a few times, had passed away. His home was hoarded. He had plans of moving into assisted living and needed to clear out his place. He knew what he needed to do but wasn't ready to make the changes.
In the end, the only thing he let me do was get rid of some old mail. We also researched resources for selling items.
The family called me and wanted to know where his will and important paperwork was located in the home. Unfourtunately, I didn't know. I knew about a bag of medical paperwork in the living room and a bin of old taxes that I had put together. I also directed them to a room that appeared to have once been an office.
I gave them the advice that I give every family that has a hoarder in their lives- get out the kid gloves. When breaking down a hoarders house, you have to go through everything. There is no rhyme or reason for where things are located.
I c0uld tell you story after story of things I have found in unusual places. Its so essential to shake out every magazine, and book. Going through what appears to be bags of trash is also important. I found a large collection of coins in one house that was in bags of "trash". Leave no stone unturned.
The best way to approach this process is take one room at a time. I always have a ziplock bag on me for money that I find. Yes, my clients have looked at me strange when I pass out the bags. Also have a trash bag beside you for trash.
Set up a few boxes(banker boxes work great) for important papers. When you find these papers, toss them in a box. Review them at a later time. This will slow down your progress if you try to make decisions all at once. Also, its doubtful that they have all their paperwork together for the estate. You might need the old bank statements for account numbers.
Take one room at a time. Clear it out and then begin on another space. Or if its a group effort, then give everyone a space to work on. If the place is extremely hoarded, then probably only one person can work in one room at a time.
Bathrooms and Kitchens are the easiest rooms to start with. They are the least emotional and tend to have less treasures.
Make sure you have a place to put the trash. Rent a dumpster or have a trash company scheduled to pick up the stuff. Also schedule a pick up for donations.