What Happens to Self-Storage Contents if a Customer Passes Away

By Sarah Hughes on 4 Mar 2022

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The death of a loved one, whether a family member or a friend, is a very traumatic experience. It is hard enough handling the grief let alone the added stresses of dealing with an estate and the personal possessions left behind. 

Fortunately, for us and our customers, such circumstances are few and far between, but every now and again we are relied upon to assist during these very difficult times. To assist with any uncertainty of what would happen to a loved one’s pre-existing storage with us, we have detailed our procedures as follows:

Access to Unit(s)

If you previously had access rights before your loved one passed away, you would not automatically lose your rights to the site or the storage unit(s). You would be entitled to remove the possessions or take over the storage hire agreement.  

If you did not have prior access, we are unable to provide access to the site or unit(s) until we have been provided with a copy of the death certificate and a copy of a court order stating you are the executor of the estate. Sometimes this process can take up to 30 to 60 days.

During this time, the necessary storage fees must continue to be paid promptly and in full by someone / anyone who believes they have a right to the contents for the storage unit(s). If the storage fees are not paid, then we reserve the right to handle the agreement and the contents of the unit(s) in accordance with our Terms and Conditions that the deceased customer agreed to when taking out their storage hire agreement. It is therefore very important to ensure the monthly payments are made until the contents are cleared from the storage unit(s).  

Once we receive the required documents, we can provide access to the site and unit(s). At this point you can decide whether you want to take over the storage hire agreement or if you want to terminate this and remove the possessions from the unit(s).

No Notice Received of Passing

Sadly, there may be circumstances where one of our customers passes away, but we are not notified. This could be because the next of kin did not know of the self-storage unit(s), or it has been forgotten that we need to be notified. In this instance we would only learn of the passing when the storage agreement enters arrears after the deceased’s bank account is frozen. If this were to happen, we will attempt to contact any known next of kin, or formally write to the address provided by the customer advising of the existing storage hire agreement and account status. 

If we are unsuccessful in contacting a next of kin, we will finally send a formal letter to the address on the account notifying foreclosure of the storage unit(s) and detailing what will happen to the possessions.

In certain circumstances we may attempt to contact the local probate court to see if the deceased estate has been probated and whether an executor has been named. If there is an executor, we will contact them to determine what they would like to do with the storage unit(s) and possessions.

Notification of Competing Claims to the Contents

There may be instances where we are notified of a customer’s passing when we receive communication or visits from various family members each making a claim to the right of access to the storage unit(s). In this case, for extra security, we will ensure the storage unit(s) is securely locked with a different padlock and that no members have access to the facilities via the GSM gate. 

We will request the family members to go to their local probate court and submit their claims there. When the court has issued a determination to the rightful heir to take possession of the contents within the storage unit(s), we will require a copy of this. 

Until we receive a copy, all pre-existing and relevant storage fees will continue to be charged on the storage unit(s) and will be expected to be paid promptly and in full by those making a claim to the contents in order to avoid the items in the storage unit(s) from being ceased or removed, as per our Terms and Conditions.

How our Customers can Prepare if the Worst were to Happen

None of us like to dwell on the possibility that we may die unexpectedly, but if the worst were to happen it would be of benefit for those left behind if they were made aware that you have a self-storage unit with details of the site location and unit number(s). 

Notifying a family member or close friend that you have a storage unit is a great start. Even better would be if your family member or someone you trust implicitly has complete access to our site and your unit, we are able to facilitate this with the provision of necessary personal details. 

If you’re reading this and would like to discuss matters further then please do get in touch – we’re here to help and all discussions will remain confidential between yourself and PadStore Ltd. 

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