The Power of Letting Go

How to Leave a Clutter-Free Legacy

As you face retirement, now is the time to think about the legacy you want to leave for your family. I remember when my mom retired and she brought home all her stuff from work… why? So, I asked her “Mama please don’t leave me with all this stuff”. In a way I am glad she did, otherwise I would not have sharpened my organizing skills. But seriously, please don’t leave a legacy of clutter. Unfortunately, a great majority of the next generation and the one after does not value your keepsakes and antiques. Unfortunately, many of the antique stores have gone out of business for this very reason. I know this is heartbreaking.

It is time to think about the essentials, because when you leave this earth, you can’t take any of your stuff with you. Grieving the loss of a loved one, planning a funeral and having to clear out your home is hard enough. Please make it easier by beginning to declutter process now that your time is not as consumed with working and all the other things that took up your time pre- retirement.

So where do you begin?

Make it fun. Have a dinner party or cookout and invite your close friends and family over and ask them to share stories of the fondest memories surrounding some of the items in your home. The person who shares the fondest memory of a particular item will get to keep that item when you pass away. Designate this item to be left to them in your will. Each person will only inherit one or two items so their space doesn’t become cluttered.


Any item that does not get included in that story and you have not used or planning to use within the next year should be sold or donated to charity such as Habitat for Humanity or local charity that is dedicated to giving back to the community.


Over the years, clothes and shoes accumulate. Now that you are retired, you probably won’t need or wear the clothes you once wore to work. Now is a great time to think about all the people who could benefit from your professional clothes. Consider donated your clothes to a charity organization such as Suited for Change, Dress for Success or your local Workforce.


Other contributors of clutter are books and paper. Books are meant to be read and passed along. Unless the book could be indoctrinated into the Library of Congress, it is time to let them go. Donate them to your local library. Some organization will even pick up your books for free such as Shopiago (cause books are heavy).


Allow yourself one file draw to keep paper documents. The most important paper that should be kept in your filing drawer are your Advance Directives, a paper copy of your will and only the most recent financial documents. Anything that can’t fit in your file should be shredded or stored electronically. Any documents that are really important to you, scan and save them on your computer or on a cloud platform such as Drop Box.


The greatest expression of love is demonstrated in the legacy you leave.

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