An older couple packs up belongings and labels boxes.

Self-Storage While Settling an Estate

Gemini | July 10, 2024 @ 12:00 AM

Settling an estate is never easy. Resuming life after losing a loved one can be painful and figuring out what to do with the things they leave behind takes time. As your neighborhood storage experts, we’re here to help during all of life’s transitions. We may not be able to tell you how to settle an estate, but we can tell you how to make life easier by incorporating the right storage unit into the settlement process. 

You probably have exhausting months ahead of you, recovering from the loss and making important decisions. To make the estate settlement process easier for all involved, we’ll explain why a storage unit is valuable and how to choose the right facility. We’ll also include some tips for effectively using your storage unit during this period.

Why a Storage Unit Makes Sense 

When settling an estate, you often have mountains of personal belongings to sort through and organize. A storage unit offers a secure and private space to store these items until you decide on their new home. It also provides a neutral holding tank when multiple parties are deciding who gets the gold watch and who keeps the family cutlery in the fancy wooden case. 

This can be particularly useful when the deceased's home needs to be vacated or sold on a strict timeline. It buys you valuable time to make thoughtful decisions about keeping, donating, or dumpstering the belongings.

How to Choose the Right Storage Facility

We understand you have a thousand other decisions competing for your brain’s attention right now so, let’s make this one easy. When selecting a transitional home for your loved one’s possessions, consider these factors:

  • Location: Select a storage facility that is conveniently located between the deceased's home and the beneficiaries. This makes it easier to transport items and access them when needed. You don’t want your checks on grandma’s antique vases to turn into unexpected road trips.
  • Security: Ensure the facility has robust security measures such as surveillance cameras, secure locks, and gated access. Remember, you're storing valuable memories, not just stuff.
  • Climate Control: For storing sensitive items like electronics, wooden furniture, textiles, photos or important documents, choose a climate-controlled unit. This prevents damage from extreme temperatures or humidity. You never know when it will be time to bust out that slide carousel of cousin Roger’s wedding. 

Tips to Make Storage Easier

  • Size: Choose a storage unit that will easily accommodate all the estate’s belongings while leaving room to sort. See our sizing guide to help select the right unit. You can also ask your on-site manager for guidance. They’ve seen some very creative packing strategies. 
  • Pack Carefully: You never know what will turn out to be valuable. You might just discover a rare Superman comic or highly-coveted Beanie Baby. Use sturdy boxes and packing materials to protect items from damage. Wrap fragile items individually and fill empty spaces in boxes to prevent shifting during transport. 
  • Label Everything: Clearly label each box with a detailed description of its contents and which room it came from. This makes it easier to locate specific items when needed. When it comes time to vacate your storage unit, you’ll be ahead of the game. 
  • Organize Strategically: Place items you may need to access more frequently at the front of the unit. Create clear pathways between boxes to facilitate easy access. This can be a lifesaver when you have to go digging for lost documents or grandma’s secret cookie recipes. 

Other Considerations When Settling an Estate

  • Legal Stuff: Make sure you’re authorized to move items into storage. The last thing you need is a legal snafu with a side of family drama. Check with your attorney and executor to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
  • Emotional Preparedness: Take it slow. Handling a loved one’s belongings can trigger memories and emotions. Give yourself moments of reflection and possibly bring along a supportive friend or family member. 
  • Plan for the Future: Estates can take anywhere from six months to several years to resolve. Eventually, you’ll need to decide what stays, what goes and who gets those cookie recipes. Make a plan for gradually clearing out the unit. Regularly planned family rendezvous at your storage unit make it easy to slowly reduce the inventory. 

Settling an Estate? Call Storelocal

Using a storage unit during the estate settlement process provides a practical solution for managing a loved one's belongings. It offers the necessary time and space to make decisions without immediate pressure and helps to mitigate the emotional and logistical challenges that come with saying goodbye. To find a storage facility near you, simply click the location finder in the upper toolbar. To contact Storelocal, click here.

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