Although it may sound cliche, death is an inevitable part of life. It’s something everyone must contend with at some point, which doesn’t make the prospect any less emotional or weighty. Whether you’re preparing for your own eventual passing away, or a loved one’s, you may look at the hard road ahead of you with a mixture of resoluteness, fear, grief and perhaps even acceptance. You may have moments where the administrative and physical aspects seem insurmountable. And, amid the challenging moments, you may see opportunities to celebrate a life well-lived.
Everyone charts this path differently. Some people have years to prepare, while others receive their news with only months or weeks. Some people surround themselves with a network of caregivers and loved ones. And others persevere down the road in relative solitude.
However you make end-of-life plans, NEATSPACES can be there for you. We understand that planning for end of life isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we offer a suite of services to aid you in the process. In this article, let’s explore the value of estate services as you make end-of-life plans.
Organizing the Home for Loved Ones
It’s natural to want to be accommodating for your loved ones. We spend the better part of our lives determinedly looking out for our children, going to bat for our siblings and showing our gratitude to spouses through acts of service. None of that changes as we make end-of-life plans.
You might justifiably look at your collection of belongings and worry about how your loved ones can possibly sort through it all. You want to be accommodating, after all. Here, we can take a cue from The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, in which she extols the value of decluttering to alleviate the burden on loved ones.
NEATSPACE’s compassionate estate service can help you minimize the amount of work left for your family after you pass away. And, as Magnusson astutely points out, the process can even be an opportunity to reflect on a lifetime of joy embodied by your possessions.
Preparing and Organizing Important Documents
You may also feel the need to be as considerate as possible to an executor, especially if the executor is a close acquaintance (or loved one). Moreover, you or a caring loved one may feel the weight of administrative burden as you consider the various paperwork to get in order at end of life.
As part of our estate services, our professional organizers can aid you in rounding up and sorting through important documents. These may include documents pertaining to a life insurance policy, pension, retirement account and annuity, last will and testament, power of attorney documents, passwords and bank and investment statements. You may also organize the storage of documents as well (safety deposit box location, key location, passcodes, etc.) in case you need to provide access to caregivers, executors or loved ones.
Preparing the Home for New Care Arrangements
As part of preparing for end of life, you or your loved one may need to retrofit the home for special care arrangements: hospital beds, lift slings, supplemental oxygen devices, vital signs monitors, IV stands, etc. This is what’s known as “Hospital at Home” (or HaH), a medically celebrated model of care that facilitates aging in place and supports a person’s ability to choose where they spend their final moments.
It’s also a monumental task to execute as it often requires clearing a large space at home. In addition to establishing the primary care space, you may also consider clearing a spare bedroom to offer caregivers and relatives a place to stay the night, and installing a chair lift to access amenities on other floors. You may also wish to create a seating area next to the dedicated HaH, so everyone can spend comfortable time together.
If you plan to build out an HaH, chat with us about our estate clearing and organizing services. We can help shoulder the burden of clearing out space for at-home care and making the new space both functional and inviting.
Organizing for “Giving While Living”
A last will and testament details the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, but the process doesn’t have to wait until after someone passes away. It can be richly rewarding for a person to see their precious possessions divvied and doled while they are still alive – to see the happy faces of recipients and share in the joy of passing down a legacy. This is sometimes referred to as “giving while living” and can have the added benefit of reducing estate value (and therefore probate fees due upon death).
If you or your loved one wishes to plan for “giving while living,” you will need to first sort through belongings and organize items according to their intended recipients. This is where NEATSPACES can help. Our trustworthy organizing support can make the “giving while living” process effortless and quick.
Advising on the Sale and Dispersal of Other Items
And what about the items not passed to beneficiaries – valuable items that might otherwise end up at an estate sale after a person passes away? If you sell or disperse belongings as part of end-of-life plans, you may be able to a) alleviate some of the work of estate settlement upon death and b) raise money for funeral plans and c) create additional liquidity in the estate.
We understand that it is a sobering, challenging prospect to part with belongings as a final act of compassion for those around you. If you plan on taking charge of the dispersal of your belongings, talk to NEATSPACES about how we can support you. We can organize items for private sale, auction or otherwise, and advise on how best to sell or disperse belongings.
Digitizing Old Memories
As a means of legacy preservation, you or your loved one may wish to digitize photographs, letters and other old memories. We have helped with this service in the past and found it to be both joyful and therapeutic for people. It’s a creative way to preserve memories without carrying the cluttering physicality of those memories.
It’s also a nice way for families and caregivers to come together with the person, spending time reminiscing on important memories, family trips, milestones, weddings, etc. You can even get children and grandchildren involved (they’re often the tech-savviest in the family), digitizing, labelling and tagging photos with dates, people and locations. We’ve also seen people attach voice notes to their digitized photos – stories that contextualize and explain the photos for present documentation and future preservation.
Once done, a person can choose to cherish their digitized memories in private or organize a “viewing party” with loved ones. You can cast the digital photo album to a monitor or television in the person’s room or HaH, encouraging loved ones to gather around and watch.
A walk down memory lane can be a potent emotional catharsis for some people at end of life. Or it can be a remarkable challenge. Speak with your loved ones to consider whether digitizing memories is right for you. And consider speaking to NEATSPACES about creating legacies in other categories – like clothing, souvenirs, travel, architectural elements of homes. etc.
There are several “meal train” apps that loved ones and well-wishers can enroll in to help lift the burden of meal preparation as you or a loved one deals with end-of-life plans.
Essentially, a loved one can set up one of these meal train apps (the most popular of which is simply called Meal Train) on a recipient’s behalf, and send a link to mutual contacts. Those who receive the link can choose dates on a calendar to provide meals – whether it’s dinner delivered from the recipient’s favourite Italian restaurant or a home-cooked casserole dropped off at the recipient’s door.
It’s a fantastic way for the community to gather behind a person in their time of need, to show their love and support. NEATSPACES can help organize the process with coolers at the door and a system to return the correct dishes to the correct person or a pick up system outside.
Shouldering the Weight for a Caregiver
Let’s address the caregivers directly now – those family members, friends and close acquaintances who clear their schedules to support a loved one at end of life. Your mental and physical well-being matters throughout this process.
It’s natural to feel overtaxed. It’s natural to divert your attention toward a loved one’s well-being at the expense of your own. In these cases, NEATSPACES’ decluttering and organizing services can help shoulder some of the weight by ensuring that your home is taken care of so you have more time to invest in your own emotional well being and the care of your loved one.
If you have any questions about our estate services, including points not covered above (i.e., preparing a home for sale as part of an estate), please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our compassionate team of professionals is always ready to answer questions and provide clarity.