My dad died from a stroke in 2014 and my sister in 2017.   Most of my siblings are dead which left me as undertaker for a 60-year old hoarder house.

They left nine cars in various disrepair.   Two with no title and their holding companies were gone so tracing the titles took months.

  • 1970 VW dune buggy which sat in the garage for 28 years
  • 1972 Suburban which sat in the garage for 28 years (61,000 miles)
  • 1979 Triumph which sat in the garage for 28 years
  • 1984 Ford Bronco, dead
  • 1986 Fiero, which sat in a carport for 10 years
  • 2004 Toyota Rav ($3K to replace rusted wheel bearings)
  • 2001 PT Cruiser (overheated during the summer)
  • 2000 Ford Ranger
  • 1985 Chevy Nova

There were 7,000 books.  I didn't count them, I calculated from square footage.  Four bedrooms with 6 shelves @ 12 ft each, two living room bookcases of 8 shelves @ 15 ft each and over 50 boxes with 30 books each.   At 10 books per sq ft, that's 6,780 books.   There were 10,000 magazines (calculated by weight at the city dump), most drenched in cat urine.

About 600 boxes, average size of 16"x16"x16", some packed in the 1960s and never re-opened.  That's 1,400 cubic feet of clothes, toys, magazines, books, dishes, bedding, christmas ornaments, knick knacks.  Stuff from my grandparents, my sisters, my parents.

A 120-piece china set from 1960.  42 pieces of cat-damaged furniture, including a piano,  tables, chairs, 5 beds, 6 televisions, 5 laptops, 6 vacuum cleaners, 7 lawn mowers, 4 carpet cleaners, perhaps 200 glasses and mugs, 3 refrigerator/freezers, 300 video tapes, 1,000+ music CDs, 3 safes, 4 typewriters.

Twelve living cats.   One dead cat decaying in a bedroom.  A new front door, 2 new windows, 2 new sinks, about 2,000 square feet of flooring, 1,000 ft of linoleum, all bought in 1990 and never installed.   About 300 ft of additional bookcase to be assembled.  Egad.  I never realized my parents were this crazy.

3,000 pages of legal documents - lawsuits, family trust, wills, car titles, marriage licenses, insurance settlements, etc.

Several hundred canned goods, many without expiration dates, a few split open by botulism.

50 flashlights.   I don't know why my dad had flashlights everywhere, in every room, every drawer, on every table.

Each week I'd find another coffee can filled with loose change, tote it to the bank to convert it for a grand total of $1,200.

About 2,000 pieces of unopened mail.  Bills, ads, letters, Christmas cards, stacked up in clear plastic boxes.

I made 20 trips to the dump at $20 each, 15 trips to Goodwill and several trips to bookstores but they wouldn't pay even 1 penny per book so I eventually gave away 1500 paperbacks.  Two contractors traded some labor for the remaining books but donated them to a library after struggling to sell them.

My sister had 7 swords from community theater.  Costumes, capes, feather boas, a real top hat.  A 1984 Olympics Marching band uniform worth a few hundred dollars.  My other sister's stuff was packed into the 5th bedroom for 27 years.  Wow.  You never know your siblings until you go through their stuff.  Stripper boots with 6-inch heels, XXX letters, etc.

I sold the cars for $1K to $2K, average.   The handyman contractors were surprised I wasn't bargaining harder, not grasping that Nowhere, Idaho was costing me money every month.  I can't replace a $150k salary by selling some books for a $1 or an extra $500 on a car.

It was certainly not the windfall that society suggests.   Liquidating the family heirlooms of six people was depressing but I have no use for 42 pieces of repulsive furniture or 7,000 books, although  I kept and refinished six pieces.

Ironically, I discarded my possessions during my divorce in 2006.  For 11 years I owned a car, ten sets of clothes, a sleeping bag, some laptops and phones.  Then I get a karmic shafting of 5,500 square feet of jam-packed hoarder house as punishment for being possession-free.   Liquidating that house was the hardest year of my life.