Death and Storage: Essential Tips for Protecting Your Storage Unit in the Face of Untimely Circumstances

What’s covered in this article – click on a link to learn more:

There’s a reason why Oprah included a notebook for instructions to family members after you pass away in her 2023 list of favorite things. Losing a loved one is hard enough. Having to disentangle a web of passwords, cherished possessions, and open accounts can be overwhelming for a grieving family. The notebook, cheekily titled “I’m Dead, Now What?: Important Information About My Belongings, Business Affairs, and Wishes,” is available on Amazon for less than $15, and is something everyone should consider investing in.

I'm Dead, Now What?: Important Information About My Belongings, Business Affairs, and Wishes

One piece of information that should absolutely be included in this notebook is whether you rent a storage unit, and how to access it if so in the event of your untimely death.

In the comprehensive guide below, we will go into more detail about how to ensure that your storage unit is protected no matter what unforeseen circumstances may arise. From designating a trusted point of contact, to incorporating storage unit details into estate planning, these steps will empower you to safeguard your belongings and preserve your legacy for generations to come.

What happens to a storage unit when someone dies?

When someone passes away, their storage unit undergoes a process that differs from state to state. However, the standard procedure often involves the facility securing the unit to prevent unauthorized access. A facility that has no information about a tenant’s executor or emergency contact will likely have to restrict access to avoid complications related to the will. In some cases, the contents of unclaimed storage units eventually end up at public auction.

If that’s not what you want for the contents of your self-storage unit, we can help. Read on to learn about the important steps you should take to protect your storage unit in the event of untimely death.

Designate a Trusted Point of Contact

Ensuring the security of your storage unit starts with designating a trusted point of contact. This person is often your next of kin, but you are free to choose whomever seems like the right person for this important job. Consider listing this person on your rental agreement, which will establish them as a key liaison for the self-storage facility.

Whether or not you decide to include another person on your lease, sharing access details like keys or codes with your designated contact is a critical step in the process of protecting your unit. Be transparent with your point of contact about how to access the unit if necessary to prevent confusion and administrative burden during a difficult time.

Incorporate Storage Unit Information in Estate Planning

Include detailed information about your storage unit in your estate planning documents. This includes the storage facility’s name, location, and any other pertinent details that would assist your family and legal representatives in accessing the contents of your unit. 

Are there special items in your unit that you want to leave to a particular person or family? Make sure your will and other legal documents make these wishes crystal clear to avoid potential confusion or disagreement after you are gone.

Keep Inventory Records Updated

Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of your stored items is a proactive measure that pays big dividends in the long run. It will help family members find specific items, and can even serve as a critical document for an insurance claim in the event your unit is burglarized. 

One way to complete an inventory is by using your smartphone to take photos. Just make sure the photos are saved to a folder that can be easily accessed by your point of contact, or use a smartphone inventory app for an even easier process. Don’t forget to update your inventory as things come in and out of the storage unit. Having a clear idea of the contents of your storage unit is not only best practice while you are alive, but will contribute to a smoother transition after you pass.

Regularly Review and Update Information

Many storage unit renters keep their unit for years or even decades. That’s why it’s so crucial to regularly review all key information related to your storage unit. Storage unit facilities can have changes in ownership, which may result in different requirements or codes to access the units. Especially if you pass away suddenly, you want to make sure that your family has all the correct details to gain access to your storage unit so they can carry out your wishes as you specified.

Opt for Climate-Controlled Storage

Climate-controlled storage offers many advantages for safeguarding your belongings. By maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity level, this type of storage protects sensitive items such as furniture, electronics, and documents from extreme weather conditions. It prevents warping, mold, and deterioration, ensuring your possessions remain protected over time. Whether you’re storing sentimental heirlooms or valuable assets, a climate-controlled environment is the best choice to keep your items safe.

Ensure Adequate Insurance Coverage

Insuring the contents of your storage unit is a key step in keeping your valuables safe. Unforeseen events like theft, fire, or natural disasters can pose risks to stored items. Purchasing storage renters insurance provides a financial safety net, covering the cost of replacement or repair in case of damage or loss. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, and speak with an insurance professional if you need additional guidance. Keep in mind that you will need to update the terms of your policy as you add and remove items from your unit. All the details of your insurance coverage should be included in the information shared with your designated contact.

A Proactive Approach is a Thoughtful Gift to Loved Ones

No one wants to think about passing on, but taking these steps will lighten the load for your friends and family if anything unexpected happens to you. 

By designating a trusted point of contact, incorporating storage unit details into estate planning, and maintaining open communication with your loved ones, you pave the way for a more peaceful transition of responsibility. Regularly updating inventory records, opting for climate-controlled storage, and ensuring adequate insurance coverage are additional measures that all storage unit renters should strongly consider.

As you implement these proactive steps, consider seeking support from insurance or other professionals to ensure that you’ve taken all the steps necessary to appropriately protect your storage unit.

Remember, safeguarding your legacy is not just about preserving material possessions; it’s about preserving the stories, memories, and connections that define who you are and the impact you’ve had on those around you. By keeping your storage unit safe, you’re not only protecting your belongings, but also keeping stories alive and contributing to the well-being of your loved ones. 

Categories Storage