Women’s Guide to Preparing for Life’s What-Ifs: How to Get Your Home in Order

A lot goes into keeping your household running smoothly. From cleaning to upkeep and maintenance or repairs, these to-dos don’t disappear – even if you do. 

And renters don’t have it any easier. Even if you don’t own your home, there are likely still big pieces to your home life that will require some attention in your absence.

So, as part of my quest to organize my home and life this year, I’m turning to the next chapter in my guidebook: “In Case You Get Hit by a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You’re Not Around Later,” by Abby Schneiderman and Adam Seifer (founders of Everplans*) with Gene Newman. 

In the first part of this series, we talked about getting your finances in order so your surviving loved ones aren’t left trying to track everything down. 

This next step is all about how to organize your home (and everything in and around it), so that all your systems continue to function smoothly in the event of an emergency.

How to Organize Your Pad for When You’re Gone

It’s important to take a look around every part of your home (that creepy area in the basement you’ve been avoiding for years? Yep, that too!). It’s time to grab your pen and paper and carve out an afternoon to get everything in order.


Some of the major aspects of your home might be hiding in plain sight, like your electricity, phones and internet.

Take a minute to check these things out – is there a light that always goes out? Where’s the fuse box located, and what do you do to fix it? 

Is your ancient home phone collecting dust in the corner, or is it bundled up with your internet package in a deal that’s too good to pass up? Do you own your own wifi equipment, or are you renting from the internet provider? 

Don’t forget your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – when were they last replaced, anyway? And how does that HVAC system work? 

Write down all the answers to these questions and any relevant details – while this stuff may seem obvious to you, your loved ones will feel a little less lost sorting it out with your helpful notes. 

The Big Stuff

Next up: the big stuff – literally.

Is a piece of furniture in your living room especially valuable? And where did you get that amazing wallpaper in the guest bathroom? What about that hand-painted artwork hanging in your bedroom? 

This information could be invaluable to your loved ones in the case that they want to replace or fix up your digs. Make sure to include: 

  • Furniture
  • Paint colors and wallpaper brands
  • Decor
  • Fireplace (including care instructions and how to use)
  • Laundry machines
  • Kitchen appliancesIt’s a good idea to walk through each area of your home and list these big-ticket items based on their location.

The Little Stuff Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty details 

This includes your security system. Whether it’s a high-tech camera run by a top-notch security company, or a neighbor with your spare key and a telescope pointed out their front window, you’ll need to write down a few key pieces of information. 

Likewise, any home automation systems (like Amazon Echos or a digital thermostat) should be included in your list. Write down the passwords, companies, and any other troubleshooting information that could be relevant in the future. 

Are there any small items that are particularly important or sentimental to you? Make sure your family will be able to find and properly care for them.

Outside Your Home

Just because it’s outside of your home doesn’t mean it’s not important. If you have any care instructions for your yard, make sure to include those in your list. You’ll also need to list any storage facilities you use, including their location, monthly price, what’s stored in them and a contact at the company. 

If you have any vehicles (including cars, boats, RVs or motorcycles), list out the makes, models, license plate numbers and any other relevant care information that your loved ones would need to know.