Hoarding disorder is a compulsion that compels afflicted people to store things up for no apparent reason. This distinguishes the condition from a desire to collect items of social value.
Hoarding tends to develop later in life, sometimes after a psychological trauma. If the person involved was a bona fide collector, a second, valueless accumulation may obscure an earlier collection with real value.
We have come across cases of a relative clearing a hoarder’s house without checking for valuables first. Only later do they discover the reason for the smile on the face of the provider as they paid for the service.
An OCD Clearance Is Not Something to Do on the Fly
Obsessive compulsive disorder – OCD for short – is a generally misunderstood condition that affects between 2% and 6% of the broad UK population. It is three times more common among adults aged over 55, than adults 34 to 44 years old.
An OCD house clearance can cause a surprisingly aggressive, even violent response by the hoarder. Most hoarders are secretive people driven into loneliness by social misunderstanding.
Many well-intended people clearing a hoarder’s house simply do not understand that the accumulation is the hoarder’s companion and friend. A hoarder house clearance can be a messy business at the best of times.
Clearing a Hoarder’s House After They Pass On
A hoard is a disorganised collection of things the hoarder keeps, just in case they become useful in the future. Now we may keep the cartons from recent purchases in case we have to return them. However a hoarder may have a whole room full of boxes.
Conditions may become so unhygienic, as to make cleaning a hoarded house infection-prone after they have passed away. Avery and Associates specialise in probate house clearances that are an essential part of winding up an estate. These may be subject to estate tax requiring extra care.
If you are the executor of a hoarder’s estate, you may find the experience physically and emotionally draining. We have uncovered real value under piles of junk on some occasions. Our principal Jeffrey Avery has been appraising fine art, furniture, and collectables for over thirty-five years, and he carries out most appraisals personally.
How to Go About a Compulsive Hoarder House Clearance
You don’t have to use an experienced provider like Avery and Associates. In fact, there’s nothing wrong in theory with tossing a hoarder’s possessions in a dumpster, and sending everything off to landfill.
However, you are well advised to set items with value aside, in case the estate qualifies for estate duty and you have to attach a value to them. The first month after a family member dies can be traumatic, but you may find the following checklist helpful.
A Checklist for Clearing a Hoarder’s House for Probate
1… Secure the property from curious neighbours, day trippers with sticky fingers, and professional house thieves. We recommend changing the locks as soon as you can to protect value. If you are clearing a hoarded house that was rented out, speak to the landlord about keys.
2… Track down the essential documents you need to administer the estate if you can. The will and testament are essential. However utility statements and credit accounts are also very important, because these debts must be settled before an estate can be wound up and the assets distributed.
Other important documents to find before a compulsive hoarder house clearance include passwords and user names, bank statements, insurance policies, and national security numbers. You should do this first.
3… Consult the will before proceeding further. Someone who has inherited from the estate has real right over their interests, and you need to understand their intentions However, you may need specialist probate advice from a reputable company in the event of a dispute to avoid misunderstandings.
4… Sort the items into piles and write them up on a list. At this stage you may need to ask a third party to do the heavy lifting for you. Be prepared to be surprised, even shocked by what you unearth. Obtain a professional opinion on anything you believe may have value.
As executor, you bear personal responsibility for the distribution of the estate. You may benefit from an experienced eye over your shoulder before you remove anything from the house. Avery and Associates have been in the business for decades and they certainly add value.