Julie Hall wants those of the boomer generation, and their parents, to be ready for the inevitable. In her book - The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff - she emphasizes making sure the parents' wishes are clearly known (through a will, and more), hiring a personal property appraiser so you know the value of what you're dealing with, keeping family relations cordial while sorting through a deceased parent's things - and decluttering. Here are a few choice quotes.
You don't need things to remember your mom or dad or another loved one. Just close your eyes and check in with your heart. It is there you will find your loved one. ... While it is important to keep one or two items that have only sentimental value, you should resist the temptation to keep your parents' memories alive by keeping all of their stuff. After all, the memories will always be there, ready to recall at any moment.
Referring to her list of collectible, vintage, and antique items that may have value: You'll notice there weren't any Cool Whip containers on that list. Or old magazines, jars of buttons, spools of thread, or canning jars. In most homes, greater than 50 percent of the things that have accumulated over the years can either be donated or go straight to the Dumpster.
Referring to the work boomers can do, so they don't cause clear-out-the-house grief for their own children: Climb into the attic and find a new home for everything you carted up there. Most of that stuff could be labeled "someday" as in "Someday I'll make a quilt out of all my kids' old flannel shirts." Well, either make someday today and get started on that quilt, or be honest with yourself and admit that quilt will never come to be. ... And don't fool yourself into thinking your grandkids will wear those clothes someday. ... Do you really think your granddaughter wants to wear her mom's clothes when she goes into the eighth grade?