When a loved one passes away, coping with their death can be overwhelming for relatives and friends alike. The grief that comes with the thought of clearing the deceased house is often too much to bear for the family and people involved and it can be overwhelming with your loved one’s possessions still inside. It is important you prepare yourself emotionally and make a checklist of what to go through before embarking on this journey. This is where a professional company can help you in organising and cleaning of the deceased estate.
Give yourself time
Cleaning out a deceased elderly loved one home can be both emotionally and physically demanding. It is important you prepare in advance the process of cleaning out a home. Be kind to yourself and take as many breaks as you need to work through your grief. It is essential to take your time and let yourself feel the emotions along the way. If the elderly has been living in the house for decades, you may have a lot of stuff to go through. Get some help from willing family members and close friends, and plan one of few weekends aside to sort out the cleaning together. Take care of the valuables first, leaving what cannot be kept for collection later. You might want to divide tasks between each other, such asking one person to handle bills and financials.
Not only the process of cleaning can be extremely taxing, but the organisation can be as taxing. If required, get help from professionals in deceased estate cleaning to ease off the burden, giving you time to go through what is most important to you.
Sort out their paperwork
If your loved did have their paperwork organised, this process will be simple. If not, when going through their paperwork you might find important documents such as recurring charges, will, stocks certificates.
These documents include: Passports and birth certificates, Life Insurance Policy, Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, Medical and pharmacy bills, Will, Stocks and Bond Certificates, Letters.
Personal IDs documents: Passport, Birth Certificate, Driver’s License
For Bill Recepts, you might want to notify credit agencies to freeze any future charges. For utilities such as gas, electricity and phone, get them disconnected and paid up. Sometimes they can be found on the deceased accounts on their phone, tablet or computer.
For any Bank Statements, go through them and get your loved one’s death certificate if you find accounts or bills to settle
If you are dealing with important tax affairs of the deceased person’s, you might want to turn to relevant authorities, this link can help.
If your loved one has pets, find them a new home
It is important that you take this step first as their pet can mean a lot for them, and that they would want their companion to be safe and in good hands. The best thing that can happen is to find a friend happy to take the pet into their home, otherwise you can reach out people you know such as colleagues.
If not, you can find a local animal shelter or reach out the RSPCA for help.
Sort out your loved one’s belongings
This is often the most confronting part of the cleaning out process and can take up weeks to be ready for this step. It is recommended to stay organised and sort items if different categories, such as: items to keep, to recycle, to donate (charity or family members/close friends), to sell and if required, have the value assessed by a professional, and items to dispose of.
Locate valuables can include jewellery, watches, family heirlooms, photos.
Find all the keys (house, windows, letterbox, garage, storage cage, car), credit cards
Go through the house top to bottom to find all valuables, work through room by room instead of trying to clean all in one go, it can take days to weeks depending on the size of the property and number of items. A professional company can offer help here in order to stay organised. If the process seems too confronting, start with places that are easier and not emotionally charged, such as garage. The key is to be consistent and keep the momentum going.
Old and other various items that you are not sure about their value can be valued by a professional before thinking to just throw them into a skip bin. These can include:
- Record collection
If there are electronic devices such as computers, laptops, tablets or smartphone, keep an eye for usernames and passwords. You can also find remaining utility bills in their emails. You might access the contact details in case you want to contact close friends for a funeral.
This article can help finding out which items could be the most emotionally valuable to your loved one, as you might need to take an extra care of them.
Invite in family members to claim what they want to keep
The first step from here is to reach out to family members, and if needed, meet them in smaller groups to go over what items they want to keep, as tensions can arise between certain family members. If a certain item is claimed by more than 1 person, you might need to ask them to come to an agreement before moving further.
Discard or donate any unwanted items
Items that are not claimed and are usable can be donated to the deceased’ favourite charity and contact them to arrange a pickup. If unknown, we can help finding one for you. It can be wise to contact people the deceased have developed a relationship with if they want any items, for example the caregivers of an aged care facility.
Other options include:
- Put items for sale (e.g on Gumtree)
- Garage sale
- OpShops that sometimes have large clean out services
Common items that can be donated include:
Leftover items that are too old or too damaged to be repaired and reused, it is best you dispose of it. It is possible these items are too heavy for you to carry yourself, so you might need to rent a skip bin for this. There are various services for this, such as Rubbish Removals Australia or get in touch with us. We can make the process hassle-free by helping to sort out the items for you and take care of the entire removal process, deciding what can be recycled and what should go to landfill
Prepare the property to go to market
If you are planning to sell the property of the deceased, there a quite a few steps to ensure it is market ready and attract buyers.
- Do a general cleaning of the house. Scrub every area, remove all cobwebs and dust, clean appliances thoroughly and deodorise
- Shut off electricity at the main switch, shut off gas, close water off at the main taps to fix any leaks.
- Walls: You might want to repaint the walls to a neutral colour, patch any holes and cracks on walls and ceiling, and wash them with all-purpose cleaner
- Floor: If there are timber floor beneath the carpet, remove the carpet and refinish the timber. This process and the process of carpet cleaning can be difficult, but you can let professionals do the cleaning job quickly and effectively
- Windows: Clean the windows, making sure the glass is clear. If coverings are old, remove them
- Exterior: Make sure the property is presentable outside to potential buyers, such as repainting the exterior and tidy up the landscaping
- Finally, make sure someone is checking regularly on the place, to empty letterbox or deal with anything that could go wrong