When a loved one passes away, the person’s family is usually left behind to sort through the estate. For those who were hoarders and extreme collectors, following through on the their estate planning instructions may be challenging with the overwhelming amount of belongings stored up. At first it can be shocking for those in Florida and elsewhere to see how their loved one’s hoarding impacted his or her living environment.

One man recently had to deal with this experience after his 92-year-old grandmother passed away. The man works for Wells Fargo’s Estates Services group and had plenty of experience in dealing with people’s estates; however, he was still shocked when he opened his grandmother’s closet to see that it was completely filled with hoarded personal belongings. There was even another entire room that was completely filled from floor to ceiling with random items such as news clippings, books and photographs.

The first reaction for many people may be to throw everything out. However, many times families may find valuable assets hidden within the mess. Family members should check in unlikely locations, such as inside of books or in the backs of picture frames. Many times people will be able to find valuable items which could be sold to help offset the expenses related to administering the estate.

However, one should be sure to document any cash and valuables found. For tax purposes, whoever is administering the estate will have to itemize the valuables, which may include objects such as jewelry or fine art collections. Any items more than $3,000 in value must be appraised by a certified professional. The law includes significant penalties for those who undervalue an estate’s assets in an attempt to evade taxation. In order to avoid such legal errors, a clear understanding of tax law and estate planning law in Florida is advisable in most situations.