Dealing with the Death of a Hoarder | Guest Post

dealing with the death of a hoarder

Many of us are familiar with hoarding. Whether we know someone in our own family or it is something we have viewed on TV, hoarding affects as many as 19 million Americans. It is more common in older Americans and in males vs females. Losing someone with the disorder adds extra load to tackle, both physically (with the cleaning and organizing that becomes necessary) and then of course mentally,  though modern technology does help. Dealing with the mountain of items left behind can be a big task, which is why we are going to go through it step by step.



Many times, though loved ones will not be emotionally ready to deal with a hoard, it will be necessary to start right away. Liquidating assets, such as the home itself, may be required financially. The important thing to note here is that there are going to be more things than you originally expected. Even if you knew that your deceased loved one was a hoarder, and you know that they have accumulated a lot of items, expect more. That way the actual amount of stuff that you have to deal with won’t catch you off guard.


Get Help

Getting your family to help you is vital if your deceased loved one was a hoarder. Trust us when we tell you that if your deceased loved one was a hoarder, you cannot get rid of their stuff on your own. So, the best thing to do is to call someone to help you out. Ideally, this should be a close relative that had a close connection to the deceased person. They will be able to help you sort out family memorabilia and other valuable items from the tons of junk that fills the deceased’s home. Furthermore, if there are seniors that need your help with coping, you’d be smart to have a capable family member by your side.



After that, you will need to get some supplies. Know that you will probably have to throw some stuff out, donate others and even keep some in storage. And in order to tackle each of those properly, you will need to get the right packing supplies and safety equipment. Among the things you will have to get are:

  • Work gloves and boots – A hoarder’s home can be surprisingly hazardous, especially if you are not familiar with it. So, the first and most important thing to get is work gloves and boots.
  • Boxes and bags – Get a ton of garbage bags. The larger and stronger they are, the easier it will be to deal with the mountain of trash that has piled up. For items that you will keep or donate, you should get boxes.
  • Plastic bins – If you plan on storing items for a longer period, plastic bins can be a great alternative to cardboard boxes. Especially if you also plan to move somewhere far away with the items.


So, you’ve entered the home of your deceased loved one and are stunned by the amount of stuff that they have. Well, in order to dispose of this seemingly endless pile of items properly, there are certain steps that you need to take.

Sort Items

The first thing to do is to sort the items. This is especially important to do if there is important legal paperwork that you need to find or contracts that you need to stop. There are multiple ways you can do this, but in essence, three groups will be more than enough:

  1. The garbage – the items that you will throw away
  2. The items you plan to donate or sell
  3. And the items you plan on keeping

In our experience, the first group will be the largest and the most difficult to deal with. You can even rent a portable garbage container to make throwing away easier. We wouldn’t advise simply piling up the garbage next to the local garbage container as you might run into trouble with the city.

 Donating and Selling

Before donating any items, you should first contact local charity organizations. They will outline which items to donate and how to donate them. This will make the whole ordeal much simpler and you might even get tax benefits. Selling, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier. Depending on how many items there are, you might have to organize multiple garage sales in order to get rid of them all. Just keep in mind that your goal is not to make a lot of money but to get rid of all the stuff. So don’t be too greedy when it comes to setting the price.

Keeping Items

If your deceased loved one was a hoarder, they will probably have a surprising amount of family memorabilia that you will want to hold on to. These items can take you on an emotional ride as they will invoke memories and feelings long forgotten. But, this is precisely why you should have a family member helping you out.

Here is some additional information and resources:

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Author: Holly Pennington is a professional content writer that is mostly focused on moving and household management. She’s worked with companies like for over 15 years, helping people deal with a household relocation. Seiter Law makes no