Life Transitions - Moving House For Someone Else

Paper clutter, hoard, old paperwork

It's often said that moving house is the most stressful thing that can happen, after the death of a loved one. At some point in time, many of us have to deal with both at once. We may also assist someone to move from their home into a long-term care facility, which can be equally hard.

It's a stressful time. As well as dealing with death or the grief of watching a loved one's health deteriorate, there are legal requirements, physical work and vast amounts of administration. Families often argue over decisions.

There are also unplanned expenses. Even where these are covered by a person's assets, you may have bills to pay while waiting for probate, guardianship or a property sale.

Once you've dealt with the immediate concerns, you will probably find yourself clearing out someone else's home. This can be a cathartic chance to process lifelong memories. It can also be devastating, particularly if you don't know what to do with it all or if family members disagree.

There are professional services that help pack and move items, clear out rubbish or renovate properties for sale. Some companies, like I Buy Anything Canberra, may help with all three tasks. But at some point, you will need to decide what to keep and what to discard.

Customers often contact Send and Shred when they're clearing out someone else's filing cabinet. 'People know they shouldn't throw someone else's personal information in the bin,' said Send and Shred CEO, Jo Clay. 'But it's hard to tell at a glance what's sensitive when it's not your own. That's where a comprehensive shred service really helps.'

How long should you keep other people's paperwork?

'I have an older family, so I've been through this a few times,' said Jo. 'I've kept some sentimental items, like my Dad's old shipping ticket to England. We put generic things we didn't want in the recycling, like newsletters, old books and magazines. I made family albums with scanned photos. But I haven't filled my garage with boxes of old paperwork that I'll never look at again.'

What about legal requirements? If in doubt, check with your executor, lawyer or accountant.

'You might want to keep certain records forever, like birth certificates and passports. But you can securely discard these in a Send and Shred bag if you'd prefer to,' Jo said. 'Keep official records and tax and business paperwork for the statutory holding period. That's often five or six years but it can be longer, especially if there are debts or litigation. Personal and medical records are up to the individual. But whatever you throw out, make sure you do it securely.'

Any other tips?

'Trust your own instincts,' Jo said. 'Don't feel pressured to do more than you can, or spend more than you usually would, simply because you're tired and emotional. And pace yourself. You don't have to tackle it all at once.'