True Stories: Daughters with power of attorney overwhelmed by mother’s newspaper collection during senior home clean out

Most of the households we’ve helped have struggled to keep household paper clutter under control. From mail and kids school papers, to doctors’ appointments, etc.

Paper is a big one. Everyone has their own method. There is no right or wrong way to organize documents, but excess paper can quickly become overwhelming. I think teaching organization tips in high school would be a great elective.

We recently worked in a home where the two daughters in the Indianapolis area were POA (Power of Attorney) and just couldn’t deal with all the paper mom collected and saved over the years. She even subscribed to her weekly home town newspaper in Oklahoma even though she now resides in Indiana.

My team and I spent 4 to 5 days checking each piece of paper and dates to make sure we didn’t miss any important documents before shredding.  The bed was covered with papers and there was also piles of paper under the bed and on the bedroom floor. And to our surprise, as we opened the bedroom closet, we found more newspapers from Oklahoma lined up against one wall, along with other papers on the other two sides of the wall. Since we had just finished tax season, we were able to shred tax-related documents dated from 2015 and older.

I called an Indianapolis shredding company to pick up 49 bags of paper to securely destroy sensitive documents containing personal or confidential information, to protect the identity of our client.

Here are some practical paper organization tips for your home:

  1. Identify the place in your home where most of the traffic comes in…is it the garage or the kitchen? If so, create a special section where everyone in the home knows where they must place important papers that need attention. The “important paper unit” may be two or three-tier plastic trays that are labeled “kids”, “mail”, “doctors appointments”
  1. Decide who will be assigned the responsibility to retrieve these important documents and filing them daily? It’s usually the mom 
  1. The person in charge needs to retrieve documents and put dates on the family monthly calendar in a central location that everyone can see. Take all mail and other documents to the designated desk area for filing at a scheduled time
  1. Place a quality shredder (one that can handle 12 -18 sheets at once) next to the desk. Shred or discard junk mail immediately so it doesn’t pile up
  2. Bills that need to be paid or that need your attention should be placed in the “Immediate” folder on your desk. Ask yourself, does it need to be done today or before the end of the month?
  1. You can also take a 31 tabbed folder and label each tab 1 thru to 31 for the days of the month. Place all folders in the front of a file drawer. Next, place documents that need attention inside the correct day of the month folder. Items in these folders need to be paid or some form of action needs to happen
  1. If you are right handed place these files on the right side of the file drawer. If you’re left handed, place them on the left for easy access
  1. Schedule a bi-weekly paper review to stay on top of what documents need attention or action
  1. Whenever you handle paperwork on a bi-weekly basis, make sure you file items in folders pertaining to that topic. For example: have a folder for medical and dental invoices, a folder for home repairs, another folder for donations, and so on. The reason? When tax season arrives, you just simply pull out the papers in the folders and summarize that year. Create a habit by leaving the folder in place year after year

All of the above are ideas to create different habits which you’ll have to work on. Once it becomes a routine, it becomes automatic.

What is critical for everyone living in your home is to communicate the essence of putting important documents (bills, events, etc) that need to be reviewed into the important paper unit to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

By implementing these strategies, you can say goodbye to the piles of paper and create a more organized home!

Complete Relocation Solutions provides full service estate home clean outs, senior downsizing, decluttering, and estate liquidations in central Indianapolis including: Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville, Westfield, Noblesville, Greenwood, Avon, Brownsburg, and Anderson, IN. Call us at 317-514-9793