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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, October 8, 2018

What is 'Swedish death cleaning' and should you be doing it?

Swedish Death Cleaning - Organizing Your Life Before You Pass On

If you’ve ever dealt with an estate after the death of a family member or close friend, you may understand the overwhelming task of dealing with what was left behind. Unless your loved one was a staunch minimalist with a Type-A personality and a near-obsessive organizational streak, you most likely had a lot of “stuff” to deal with, as well as a needle-in-a-haystack experience of finding everything you needed to in order to settle the estate. When a loved one dies, their physical and financial “stuff” remains -- and you must sort it out.

Enter Margareta Magnusson, a Swedish author who has brought “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” to the United States. In her book, "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your On Life More Pleasant” she describes in detail how you can arrange your life beforehand in a way that, not only takes stress from your own life, but helps your loved ones manage your estate once you’ve passed.

Benefits of Swedish Death Cleaning

Magnusson describes the process of Swedish death cleaning as a permanent form of reorganization that can make your life easier. Benefits include:

  • De-cluttering your home
  • Taking stock of what you have
  • Letting things go that don’t bring you joy
  • Reducing stress and increasing happiness
  • Improving your ability to cope with your own mortality
  • Reducing stress in your loved ones once you pass
  • Potentially increasing the value of your estate

Whether you are 30- or 80-years old, you never know if you’ll have time before you die to tidy up, hide potentially embarrassing personal items, collect usernames and passwords for electronic accounts, and put all of your financial documents in order. This is your chance.

Swedish Death Cleaning and Estate Planning

From an estate-planning standpoint, Swedish death cleaning offers a mechanism to make life easier for loved ones once you pass. In order for it to be effective, it must entail more than simply de-cluttering. As part of your Swedish death cleaning, be sure to include:

  • Ensuring your will, trust, and advance directives are complete, up-to-date and in a safe place
  • Compiling a list of all assets, debts, utilities, subscriptions and contact information for each payee/payor
  • Identifying all email, website, financial, and social media accounts and providing usernames and passwords (Keep this in a safe place to avoid identity theft)
  • Locating documentation for any important thing in your life that you would want to keep up on – like passports, insurance policies, pension plans, birth and marriage certificates – anything that should be addressed, cashed-in, paid for, or cancelled when you pass on.
  • Planning for your funeral/memorial service and set aside money or pre-pay for services

Place all of these things in a master file in a secure location and make sure your attorney, trustee, executor or other responsible, trusted person will be able to easily access once you pass.

For additional information on how to prepare for your own passing or assistance when a loved on dies, contact a California elder law attorney at Horizon Law today.

 


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