Posted by David Gledhill
Janice learned the hard way, from experience.  After living in different countries and moving homes several times, including once just after  her husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident just ten days after they had moved into a new home Janice knew the problems and difficulties of moving, particularly for people in a vulnerable situation.  She used her experience to help friends and others informally for seven years and then decided to do it professionally and started her own company, Sort Out Service. 
 Now she is used by individuals, social services, Public Trust and real estate agents.  Too often her clients find they lack experience, time, resources and energy when it comes to moving, particularly when it comes to downsizing after retirement.  Janice and her staff can supply these missing items.  The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we live in a throwaway society but often we have too much stuff but have not, in fact, thrown it away.  On average, each household in NZ produces one ton of waste per year and the Southern Landfill will, on present trends, be full by 2026.  Janice explained that we have five alternatives: sell, gift, recycle, donate, keep.  Some people keep possessions they cannot bear to dispose of in a storage unit, but that can cost $1000 a year and is only a temporary solution.  She advocated the "Swedish Death", i.e. doing all the  decision making and most of the clearing out before one dies, thus controlling the situation.  There are further benefits: having too much stuff, particularly for older people, carries risks of tripping, fire hazards and blocking emergency exits.  Janice and her team  has the knowledge, the experience and the contacts to assist in the decision making.  Rather than "keep things in case the children want them (they probably won't anyway)" ask children, even friends, to choose things now, and take them.  As for the rest, some treasured items like  silver-plate and cut glass decanters are  virtually worthless and could go to charity shops.  Some things, like sovereigns, firearms and collector- quality coins may well have value.  Possible actions then are use Google for values of similar objects,  consult (at least) two dealers, Trade Me, Neighbourly and Facebook Market Place, take photographs and consult a reputable auction house like Dunbar Sloane or Central Markets.
The golden rules are:
* Start early
* Plan
* Discuss with family
* Set goals
* Select real treasures first
* Start with small steps.