The Library

Personal Belongings

Browse our expert advice
Letting the little things go

Saying goodbye to your loved one’s belongings can be hard when complicated emotions and cherished memories are associated with them. Take things slow and be kind to yourself as you sort through and part with these tokens of your loved one’s life.

Dealing with the emotions of clearing out the house

You’ll likely experience a range of emotions while clearing your loved one’s home, regardless of how much is in it. Whether it’s sadness, anger, or guilt that arises, expecting the unexpected is the first step in getting through this tough work.

Creative ways of using your loved one’s things

You can’t hold onto everything your loved one owned, nor would you want to. But with a little creativity, you’ll find there are many interesting ways to create a valuable piece of art or keepsake that will keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Loss is hard. Its vocabulary shouldn’t be.

We speak the specialized language of estates and funerals so you don’t have to.


The person appointed by the court to handle the estate of someone who dies without a will.

The duties of an administrator are similar to those of an executor, but as there is no will to execute, he or she is named administrator and distributes assets according to a procedure dictated by state law.


The sum total of someone’s net worth, including all assets. From a legal standpoint, an estate is not simply everything the person owns, but the value of all of these assets minus any debts or other liabilities. Estates are calculated differently depending on their purpose.
For example, the taxable estate may include assets that are not in the probate estate.


A service held to commemorate someone’s life. Memorials are generally considered distinct from funerals in that they are held without the body present and are not focused on the burial, although services where the urn with the loved one’s ashes is present are also called memorials. Traditionally, a funeral is a more formal service while memorials are often more unstructured.

To see the full glossary