Cleaning Your Parents’ House: Securing Paperwork, Valuables and Perishables

Posted By on September 24, 2017

My siblings found ourselves facing the task of cleaning out our parents’ house, which was our childhood home.

It’s a task that’s both daunting and emotional. The first thing we had to deal with was PVP – paperwork, valuables and perishables.

Paperwork
One thing you can be sure of is you will have lots of paperwork to handle after losing someone. Order extra copies of the death certificate because many companies require an original one versus a copy. First, you need to locate the will. The will determines the process and if there needs to be probate.

Processing paperwork for a loved one is definitely a marathon instead of a sprint, and it requires patience. A great deal of patience. And maybe wine and/or chocolate – depending on your preference.

Round up bills, checkbooks, credit cards, insurance cards, membership cards, car titles, property deeds, and any other financial documents you can find. Call each company to notify them, and they will let you know what follow up you may need to do. Keep detailed notes with dates you called so you can remember.

Magazine subscriptions are fairly easy to cancel, and we were able to cancel most of my mother’s using the customer service’s chat feature.

Valuables
This is pretty straightforward. Secure and remove all valuables, including money, credit cards, jewelry, keys, guns, deeds, car titles, and other items. Think about those items that are more sentimental than valuable but may look valuable. It would be nice to believe that nothing will happen to your loved one’s belongings, but it’s a good idea to remove any temptations for burglars.

Most burglars are looking for small items that would be easy to carry and sell. Some burglars back trucks up and empty an house of large items. When this happened to a neighbor of mine, thieves even stole his bottled water container and new suits in his closet in addition to his electronics.

Make sure to retrieve any hidden keys as well.

Perishables
First, any expired food in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry should be tossed. Food banks only accept unopened packages and canned goods. Any opened food should be used or tossed. Deep freezers should be cleaned out and defrosted.

The other perishables are prescription and over-the-counter medications. Most pharmacies don’t take old medications back on a regular basis so you usually need to do it yourself. Don’t flush medications. Expired medications should be tossed and mixed with coffee grounds and food waste.

Tackling paperwork, valuables and perishables are the first steps in what will be a long journey. Hang tough.

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