SaneBrains: A Podcast with Maureen Nolan, LPAC and Judith Kolberg

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A Place for Your Stuff - George Carlin

Getting Organized in the Era of Endless

SQUALL PRESS, the publishing division of FileHeads, is pleased to announce Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not!
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Executor’s Best Friend

The Executor’s Best Friend is a division of FileHeads Professional Organizers.

The Executor’s Best Friend is like having an onsite project manager, complete with a supervised crew, to handle the decluttering of a large, complex Estate. After the death of a person who is a hoarder, an excessive saver, or a collector gone awry, the sheer quantity of possessions, clutter and trash can be overwhelming for the family. The disorganized home is packed with a mix of stuff – including low-value items or objects with no sentimental value to the family – that can be donated for a tax deduction to the Estate. Items family members want to keep are salvaged from the clutter. Items that are broken, torn, or soiled require safe disposal. And valuable items that can add to the assets of the Estate need to be sold. Some treasures are hidden in the home, sheds, garages, attics, basements and even offsite storage units! The biggest asset of all, the home itself, has to be rescued from the clutter so it can be put on the market.

It is left up to the Executor to separate the treasures from the trash. Doing this chore yourself, or with the help of family and friends, is time-consuming, laborious, and disruptive to job and family obligations, and even more difficult if the Executor lives out-of-town. Hiring an estate sale or liquidation company to handle decluttering is expensive. The Executor’s Best Friend, in close consultation with the Executor, performs a wide-range of decluttering and clearing of a disorganized, packed home.


We perform a wide-range of decluttering and organizing services in close consultation with the Executor including:

Identify and safely dispose of trash and items that are broken, moldy, mildew, torn, infested, or otherwise unusable items.

Arrange for the safe disposal of appliances and electronics.

Identify and sort the entire contents of every room including every shelf, cabinet, drawer, closet, and cupboard.

Identify and sort the contents of storage areas including closets, garages, attics, basements, and sheds.

Identify items in good condition but with limited commercial value that the Estate wants to donate such as books, clothing, DVDs and CDs, obsolete electronics, stationery supplies, and inexpensive décor items and furnishings. We arrange for donations to a bona fide charity and provide the Executor with a receipt for tax purposes.

Identify items that may be assets to the Estate upon sale such as artwork, antiques, collectibles, furniture, furnishings, musical instruments, and jewelry.

Consult with Executor about sale options such as consignment, estate sale, eBay, CraigsList, and other online sale options.

Arrange a Family Dibs Day to display items for viewing in-person or virtually by the family, including items not designated in the Will for specific heirs.

Identify and protect items of potential sentimental value to the family including photos, framed pictures, memorabilia, family history documents, genealogy research, scrapbooks, photo albums, historical items, and heirlooms.

Empty the contents of offsite storage units. Close the storage units.

Safely handle recyclables.

Identify vital documents such as legal papers, medical, and tax-related files. Arrange for the Executor’s review of same. Arrange for the shredding of documents containing social security numbers or account numbers.

Empty and clean all vehicles including automobiles, RVs, motorcycles, and boats.

Collect all keys and locks.



“I am happy to make the highest possible recommendation of Judith Kolberg and her service, The Executor’s Best Friend [live link]. I was very fortunate to employ her to help with my recently deceased sister’s Estate, which included an extremely cluttered, five-room condominium, offsite storage units packed to the ceiling, and a  vehicle. Her team is honest, discreet, fast, and reasonably priced. And most importantly, they listened to the family and remained sensitive to our concerns.  Her team sorted through more than 1,500 banker boxes, separated the trash from the treasures, and identified family heirlooms and valuables along the way taking care to appropriately recycle, shred, and make donations. Judith knows many experts who helped the Estate evaluate and sell many items. This would have been an overwhelming and depressing task if the family and I had to do it ourselves. My phone number is available upon request.” – William P. Slack, PC. Attorney-at-Law

“Our family recently went through a crisis. Judith’s company literally came to our rescue. She is extremely professional, patient, concerned, and sensitive. She coordinated the entire project, including hiring people to carefully sort and protect the valuables.  I would highly recommend Judith Kolberg and The Executor’s Best Friend for anyone dealing with the formidable challenge of excessive and overwhelming clutter.” – J.S., a satisfied client

Case Study

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the client.


Jenny was truly an extraordinary person. Her collection of nearly 1,000 books reflected her wide-ranging intellect. She could quote poetry, critique current events, and sing hymns in a beautiful voice. She was extremely generous with her time and volunteered with many organizations. Her home was cluttering with gifts, books, and clothing meant for friends, family, impoverished families, and the homeless. I met Jenny through her brother Harry who was my client. Jenny had severe hoarding behaviors. Her condo was so stuffed that she walked on top of a foot-high unstable layer of mail, newspapers, and garbage. She let nobody into her home. “I worry about her”, Harry said. “She’s had Hodgkin’s disease and battled breast cancer and I’m afraid the clutter will kill her.”  Jenny also had two offsite storage units filled to the rafters, and a car once occupied by a family of raccoons!

Jenny resisted counseling for her hoarding disorder. I invited her to observe an organizing session with Harry and me, she finally consented to let me help her declutter and organize. Over the next five years we dug out pathways enabling access to the bathrooms. We cleared out over 3,000 pounds of trash. We donated truckloads of clothing and books. We made repairs and managed to stay just ahead of the worst rages of hoarding. An illness put Jenny in the hospital. While she was recovering at Harry’s the family met to decide how best to provide for Jenny’s care given her physical and mental illnesses. But Jenny’s heart gave out and she died.

Project Highlights

Jenny’s brother Phil was the Executor of Jenny’s estate. On Harry’s recommendation, he hired the Executor’s Best Friend (EBF) and the Estate of Jennifer S. became my client. It was a unique opportunity to honor Jenny by protecting her favorite possessions, photos, and documents, while optimizing the value of the Estate for her heirs. The Executive’s Best Friend provided a Project Proposal and an Action Plan which became a signed Agreement. The scope of the project was huge – a 2,000 square foot condo, a patio storage unit, two offsite storage units, and a car filled with stuff. Using a team of “pickers” we sifted through the trash and clutter salvaging heritage photographs, family scrapbooks and genealogy information. Jenny’s client records and financial documents were identified and organized. Truckloads of trash were removed or recycled.

“The most important Estate asset, the condo itself, was emptied, protected from further deterioration, and able to be brought to market quickly. That action alone made the Executive Best Friend a great investment,” noted Phil, the Executor.

Valuables like jewelry, antiques, and artwork were rescued from the hoard. We held a Family Dibs Day. Jenny’s extended family freely took items not designated in her Will for specific recipients. The storage units were emptied and closed, preserving the assets of the Estate. Assets retrieved from within the clutter were discovered, including a comic book collection that sold for $1,000.  After a thorough cleaning, the car sold for $3,000. Antique dolls were appraised and sold. Yarn and crafts that filled an entire bedroom were donated to one of Jenny’s favorite charities. Another organization gladly accepted the furniture, and a third non-profit eagerly accepted her cookware. Receipts were provided to the Estate for all donations.


“Jenny’s death took us by surprise. We loved her deeply and were grateful for the time to grieve, honor her life, and put together a worthy memorial service. All the while, the Executor’s Best Friend was taking care of business in the background. I live three hours away and was unable to manage the project every time something needed to be done. It would have affected my job and family, and eaten up assets of the Estate in travel costs. Judith consulted with me on vital decisions but mainly managed the whole project” commented Phil, the Executor.

  • For out-of-state Executors, the inconvenience and cost of travel is reduced.
  • Disruptive and laborious decluttering efforts by the family is eliminated.
  • The closure of costly offsite storage units preserves the assets of the Estate, increasing the distribution to the heirs.
  • The identification and sale of Estate assets increases distributions to the heirs.
  • The Estate is settled more quickly.
  • The home can be put up for sale more expeditiously.

How much does the Executor’s Best Friend cost?

The cost varies based on the size of the home, number of items, and complexity of services. An assessment will be conducted to determine the cost. The Assessment is $150.00 and is 100% reimbursed when the project is completed. The Assessment will include the project cost, how long it might take, and an Action Plan. If you like the Assessment, we’ll present you with a Project Agreement to sign. Payment is due half upon the signing of the Agreement and half on the last day of service.

The cost includes:

  • a project manager/site supervisor
  • experienced crew
  • standard services
  • standard supplies
  • transport of items to charities, recycling center, and trash