Heirlooms, Photos & Documents, Oh My! Tips for the person in charge of all that stuff!


You have been selected to take care of all the family photos, letters, documents and any other items that have been deemed worthy of keeping. This is one of the most common tasks for adult children whose parents have just passed away. Often times this task is placed on one child’s plate and can feel like a burden if they did not volunteer for the job at hand. It’s not pleasant and can oftentimes be painful, but just remember this is a process not an event. It will take days, months or even years to sort through everything. Relax and try to enjoy looking through your family’s memories.

Before you dive right into the big cardboard box of the unknown brace yourself. Make sure you are ready to tackle what can be an uncomfortable task. Pictures can spark memories that might be too much right after the passing of a loved one. Take your time before you dive head first into a walk down memory lane.

Are you ready??

If you decided it is time to begin the sorting of the stuff you might want to make a game plan. Know what your end result is for sorting the items and how you envision it being organized. If you are planning on tossing items, make guidelines for what you want to keep. That way when you are sorting items, you can determine what is to be kept, donated or given to another family member.

However, you may want to handle photos differently. There could be so many that you feel it is unnecessary to keep flipping through album after album only to place it back on the shelf to collect dust once more. Some photos may be damaged from storage conditions over the years and may not be worth keeping. Another scenario is that there may be multiple parties that would love to have those photos but there is only one copy! Never fear. With technology today, there is no need to fight over photos or toss them out over water stains.

When you hunker down to go through endless amount of photos, make different categories. This way, you know exactly what will need to be copied or repaired. This tip can also be useful for when you are going through older video recordings also. If you have piles of VHS tapes just remember, they can be converted to a digital format and video on different viewing devices and platforms.

You Did It

Whoa! You have just sorted through tons of material! Now you are deemed the family historian; you have great grandma’s recipe for her famous pecan pie, mom & dad’s wedding photos and you even have the papers from your first dog! People may want this shared with them and now it is easy! All files can be digitized and sent through email, making sharing as simple as a click of a button. If you are feeling a little more creative or generous, you can always arrange the photos in a Shutterfly book or go to your local drug store or general merchandise retailer to make prints!

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