Don’t Let Parents Leave Without This!

It always puts a smile on my face when people email me to let me know they enjoy my writings.  Sometimes I get great advice too.  I heard from Mary, a lovely lady who works as a nurse in an Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facility.  She enjoyed my book of checklists, “How to Clean Out Your Parents’ Estate in 30 Days or Less,” and thought of a few more things to add to the book.

Revised EditionHow to Clean Out Your Parent’s Estate

She lived through this process with middle-aged children and elderly parents, and she knows what may be needed.  Here are her recommendations:

  1. A copy of a marriage certificate is necessary for most insurance policies.
  2. Be sure you have on hand a birth certificate.  If you don’t have it, order a couple of original copies from the state where they were born.
  3. Documents for a cemetery plot or Neptune Society plans
  4. Military discharge paperwork for burial in a veteran’s cemetery, or even to implement veteran’s benefits for medications or financial benefits toward long-term care.  EXCELLENT POINT!
  5. Has your loved one pre-chosen or pre-paid funeral home expenses?  People die unexpectedly and often the family has no clue what was prepaid, where to bury them, or what their wishes were (cremation, laid to rest).  As you may recall, both of my parents died rapidly.  Thank goodness, we had all of their paperwork, including dad’s veteran papers.
  6. Copies of will/trust and living will.  Whether they do or do not want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), it has to be documented and you will need copies if you are suddenly faced with making life or death decisions.  Dying without a will or in debt is not a good idea.
  7. Medication disposal:  Please dispose of medications in a lidded glass jar with coffee grounds or cat litter, and soap and water.  Dissolve medication in that jar and then throw away.  You can also contact your local pharmacy for their drug “take-back” program.  Mary reminds me that many meds, like chemo drugs, can be especially toxic.

Thank you for these words of wisdom!

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at

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