How to deal with a house clearance after death

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

After a loved one dies, it is necessary to clear out their home and possessions, but this can be an emotional and painful process.

Sorting through a whole lifetime’s worth of possessions can feel like a mammoth task and it is difficult to know where to begin.

This article aims to make the process a little clearer to ease some stress during an upsetting time.

House clearance box

Gaining access to the property

Before you can begin clearing a loved one’s house after their death, you will need to be granted the legal right to do so.

After a person has died their estate is handed over to their named executor or to an administrator. An executor is usually named in a will. Before the executor can deal with the deceased’s estate, they will need to apply for legal authority to do so, this is called applying for probate.

Make sure the property is safe and secure

Once you have access to the property, the first thing you should do is make sure that it is secure, as empty houses may be targeted by criminals or squatters.

Check that all the windows and doors are in good condition and are locked. If there is a perimeter fence or gate, make sure that this is secured too, and switch on any burglar alarms, security lights or CCTV cameras that may be present. Make sure that you know the relevant codes for switching off the burglar alarm before activating it.

If you’re unsure who might have a spare set of keys for the property or if there are lots of valuables inside it, you may even wish to have the locks changed.

Locate important documents

Next it is a good idea to locate any important documentation that you may require to sort out the deceased person’s affairs. Locating them straight away and putting them away somewhere safe can help to prevent them getting thrown away or lost during the house clearance, causing you a headache later down the line.

Decide what is to happen to the property and belongings next

You will also need to make a plan about what is to happen to the deceased’s property and belongings. This may be a decision you make alone, or with other family members or friends who were close to the person.

The options you have here will very much depend on the deceased’s circumstances, whether they owned or rented their property, whether they had a will, and how many beneficiaries there are to distribute their belongings between.

Sort through personal belongings

Clearing a property following a bereavement is a huge job, and at this point many people choose to call in a professional house clearance service like the one we offer here at A1 Nationwide House Clearances.

Whether you call in the experts to deal with the house clearance after death or carry it out yourself is a very personal decision and one that you should not make lightly.

Sorting through a lifetime of memories can be both a physically and emotionally draining task.

Items are usually sorted into four general categories:

  • Items to be distributed amongst beneficiaries.

  • Items to be sold.

  • Items to be donated to charity.

  • Items to be thrown away or recycled.

Even if you decide to sort though the contents of the house yourself, it is likely that you will need to either hire a skip or the services of a house clearance company to help to dispose of the waste.

Sell, distribute, or dispose of items

Once you have separated out any items that you are keeping or that are being distributed to family members or friends, it’s time to clear out the rest.

Items of value can be sold at auction, online, or to a house clearance service. Here at A1 Nationwide House Clearances we always offer fair market value for items and can provide a free valuation if required. If you use our bereavement house clearance service, you can even sell items from the house to us and offset their value against the price of the house clearance.

If you plan on paying a business to dispose of the waste, always ensure that they are a legitimate and professional company that are licensed by the Environment Agency as upper-tier waste carriers. It is your responsibility to ensure that your waste is being disposed of responsibly and not fly-tipped.

If your waste is disposed of illegally you could find yourself with a hefty £5,000 fine, so always ask to see a business’ licence.

Clean the house

Regardless of whether the house was being rented or was privately owned, it will need a deep clean once it has been emptied.

Whilst it is possible to clean the house yourself, depending on the size of the property and the extent of the job, it may be far more efficient and produce better results to have a professional come in and clean.

Restoring the house to a high standard of cleanliness is particularly important if you plan on selling it next.

In some instances, if a loved one died in the house and the body wasn’t found very quickly, or if there are any bodily fluids present in the house, a standard clean is not enough and you will be required to use a professional trauma cleaning service.

This will ensure that any contaminated waste is disposed of safely and according to regulations and that the house is left sanitised and free of contamination.

Need some help with a bereavement house clearance?

Dealing with a house clearance after someone dies is a lot of work and can feel very daunting, especially when you’re already dealing with grief.

Our team of experts here at A1 House Clearance Services have been carrying out respectful, compassionate, and professional bereavement house clearances for 20 years and are here to make the process as stress-free as possible for you.

We can help with every aspect of a deceased estate house clearance, offering help and advice at any stage that you require it.

As well as clearing items out of the house and disposing of waste, we also buy items from house clearances and provide professional cleaning services, including trauma cleaning.

For more information about any of our services or to get a free no obligation quote on a bereavement house clearance, give our team a call on 0800 019 7853.

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