05 August 2013

Possible ongoing topic: cleaning out a deceased relative's home

The elderly aunt of a very close friend passed away in July, so I've been back and forth from my home in Philadelphia to her home in South Jersey several times in the past few weeks. The immediate arrangements are finished, so my mid-week trips are over with. But since my friend was named co-executor of the estate, we'll be heading back for many weekends in the coming months to help clean out the house.

And the RV and van.

And the garage and crawlspace.

And the shed out back.

And the two storage units.

And the storage locker at the flea market where she sold crafts.

The family is grateful that the aunt had her will in place and mostly up-to-date; it made starting the probate process very straightforward. But she didn't have all of her other documents in one single location -- and thus, the co-executors aren't sure that they've actually found everything.

I'm not sure if I'll be blogging about the clean-outs, mostly because I likely won't be available to help with most of it. Luckily, there's no huge rush to finish the house: it's fully paid off and there are no liens against it, it's in fine shape, and no part of it is in a dangerous or unliveable condition. I'm deliberately not calling her a hoarder. Other than dealing with the sheer volume of items in the house, it shouldn't be a physically unpleasant job. Just big.

My understanding is that the co-executors will be focusing on the storage units first (no, nobody's found the keys yet), in order to terminate the contracts and stop paying rent on them as soon as possible.

So far, the take-away lesson here is to get your documents and keys together, keep them in one place, and make the location available to whoever has to deal with your estate. What good is a thoughtful life insurance policy payable to your grand-niece or -nephew, if no one can find it or even know it exists?

Actually, a second take-away: I just discovered Unf**k Your Habitat, a blog about cleaning up a messy home, adopting useful habits, and cursing along the way.

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