What Do I Do with a Hoarder Home After an Unattended Death?
It’s difficult to lose a loved one when they die. Even more difficult is when the person died unattended in the midst of a hoard and you are the executor of the estate left to clean it up.
When a person hoards belongings, the house and property gradually becomes overwhelmed with items and/or garbage, making it difficult for people to move around the home safely. There are often small, narrow pathways through the hoarder home, if any, with items precariously balanced on either side. These small passageways make it difficult for people to get out of the house if they are having health problems and nearly impossible for first responders to get in. Combine that with the lack of sanitation and working plumbing in many hoarders’ homes and the fact that hoarders rarely, if ever have people over, and you have many hoarders who die unattended with their bodies being left undiscovered for weeks, months, even years.
When you’re the executor of the hoarder’s estate and the one left to deal with cleaning up the hoarder home along with the bio hazards left over from their unattended death, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Call the Home Insurance Company
Most home insurance companies will pay to clean up any damage from the unattended body along with any damages to the house when removing your loved one. This can include anything the body and bodily fluids touched as it decomposed as well as items in the home impacted by decomposition odor . Coverage will change depending on the insurance company so make sure you know what your coverage is and take full advantage of all services offered.
Don’t Clean It Up Yourself
When an unattended death occurs, anything the decomposing body touches is automatically labeled a biohazard and thus, medical waste. To dispose bio waste requires adherence to all state and federal regulations. Add to this the threat of blood-borne pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, let alone the emotional implications, calling a professional cleaning company trained in dealing with biohazards to at least clean out that area of the hoarded home can be vital to your health.
Tips on Cleaning Out the Hoarder Home
After the body is removed from the property, it’s up to the executor of the estate to restore the home to a safe and healthy condition. Here’s some tips to get you started:
- Create a list of valuable and treasured mementoes: Write out a thorough list of anything you want people to look for while cleaning out the hoard (photographs, jewelry, important papers, family heirlooms). Make copies and distribute them to everyone helping you.
- Wear protective gear: Depending on the severity and type of hoard, it’s vitally important to wear personal protective gear and a respirator to protect yourself and anyone helping. This is especially true in the case of an unattended death as the smell will have permeated the hoard.
- Don’t sort through it all yourself: Losing a loved one is hard enough. Having to go through their hoard by yourself can take months, even years. Instead of putting your life on hold to deal with the property, hire a cleanup company with hoarding cleanout experience. They will look for your valuables, donate what they can, clean out the rest, and some even restore the property before you put it on the market. Even if you can only afford to hire a company for a part of the cleanout, speeding up the process in this way is well-worth it.
- Exercise caution: When sorting through a hoarder’s home, you never know what hazards you’re going to find. Between animals, pests, urine, feces, rotten food, and medical paraphernalia, exercise extreme caution when moving around.
- Sort into three piles: Starting with one room at a time, sort your loved one’s hoard into three piles: garbage, donate, and potentially keep. Place all items you may want to keep in one place to go through later. Remember, things you wanted may be unsalvageable and need to be thrown away.
- Take breaks: Be aware of the emotional and physical implications of such a task and take breaks as needed. You can even set your phone to remind you.
Remember as you’re dealing with your loved one’s death and taking care of cleaning out their property to take care of yourself. It can be easy to put your own life on hold as you deal with their estate but remember to step back and do the things that give you joy.
Call a Professional Biohazard and Hoarding Cleanup Company
When faced with this type of a situation, call a professional biohazard and hoarding cleanup company. A high quality company will have extensive experience in biohazard and hoarding cleanup and can provide you with the knowledge you need to move forward. A reputable company will offer give you information over the phone as well as go out to the property and provide you with a free estimate. They can help you discern what will be covered under the insurance and what may not be. Undiscovered death combined with a hoarding cleanup situation can be overwhelming. Let the professionals help.
If you have any questions about our unattended death cleanup and/or hoarding and clutter cleanup services, call us 24/7 at 770-766-4562 and we’ll be happy to help.