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How to Perform a Home Check After Someone Dies

Performing a home check after someone dies might not seem like an urgent task (especially when you're considering the large list of things to do when someone dies), but it is important to ensure that the home is safe and clean. Performing a home check as soon as possible will also prevent you from running into unexpected issues if you aren't able to check on the home again for some time. The last thing you want to deal with after someone dies is a burst pipe or fire from a stove being left on. Here's what you should make sure you're covering during a house check.

Care for any pets

If your loved one had a pet, one of your first priorities should be finding adequate care for the pet while you sort out the deceased's affairs. Be mindful of smaller animals or pets that may be less obvious (such as snakes, rats, hamsters, lizards, or other small animals). Make sure you locate their food, bowls, leashes, and other items that their caretaker will need when housing them. If the decedent had larger animals (or lived on a farm), you'll need to ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to watch the animals that can't be transported.

Turn off any running faucets or appliances

Check all the faucets and locations for running water in the home; ensure all running water is turned off or stopped. Check the oven, stove, and fireplace to make sure they're turned off or put out. Be sure to check on appliances and make sure they’re left off (and unplugged if you’re extra cautious). Common appliances you’ll want to check are coffee makers, toasters, irons, and flat irons and curling irons. While you're in the bathrooms, it's a good idea to double check all the toilets are flushed.

Water the plants

If there are plants in the home, take a minute to water them thoroughly. This is easily done if you gather all the plants and put them in the sink. Most plants will do well if you water them thoroughly once a week. If there isn't an automatic sprinkler system, you may want to water the yard as well, especially if there are any outdoor plants. You should also consider who will be able to take care of the plants in a longer term situation. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they’re interested in any of the plants.

Clear out the fridge and countertops

Throwing out perishable foods is an easy step towards cleanliness. Get a trash bag and clear out the food in the fridge, as well as any food that's on the countertops or stored in a pantry. You should also consider clearing out the freezer, though frozen food is much less likely to spoil.

Take out the trash

Do a thorough check of all the rooms, checking for any small garbage bins or miscellaneous trash that's been left behind. Be sure to check under the sinks in the bathroom for small wastebaskets as well. Take out all the trash, especially if it contains food waste.

Turn down the heat or air conditioner

To avoid high utility bills (which the executor will be responsible for handling), you should turn down the heat or air conditioner, depending on the season. If the deceased lived in an area that's prone to frozen pipes, be sure to keep the heat on at a level that will prevent the pipes from getting too cold and bursting. Keeping excessive heat on can also damage items, so you’ll need to find a good middle ground.

Collect any mail and packages

Bring in any packages and mail that have been dropped off to prevent the packages from being stolen or weathered. This can also be a good opportunity to sort through mail and identify any pieces that will be useful to the executor of the estate (such as bank statements and utility bills).

Close all windows and lock up the home

When you leave, you should make sure the home is secure and that all entry points to the house are locked. If the deceased had a trusted neighbor (or you know of a trusted neighbor), asking them to keep an eye on the house can help add an additional layer of security.

Securing a home is one of many tasks that need to be handled after someone dies. Get free guidance on the many other tasks to handle with Ever Loved's What to do When Someone Dies Checklist.

View the checklist

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Last updated March 28, 2022
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