Life / Health

Settle your web presence — and other end-of-life lessons on the Swedish way to die

Millennials are getting on board with the latest trend in Scandinavia-mania: Decluttering in preparation for death. Yes, even if you're only 25.

Margareta Magnusson, author of the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, has a solution for what to do with the random junk that you love, but that is totally meaningless to others.

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Margareta Magnusson, author of the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, has a solution for what to do with the random junk that you love, but that is totally meaningless to others.

Remember to clean up after yourself — and to do it before you die. Cut down clutter now, even if you're only 25, to save others time and heartbreak if you happen to perish unexpectedly. Even if you live to a ripe old age, believers in Döstädning, the latest Scandinavia-mania lifestyle trend, which means "death cleaning" in Swedish, say that preparing for the end will make your life more worth living now.

START WITH CLOTHES, END WITH PHOTOS

Margareta Magnusson, author of the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, says you should start decluttering a category of things with a lot of volume but not much sentimental attachment. For her, this was clothes. Whatever you do, don't start by sorting photos and letters. You'll end up stuck down memory lane. Once it is time, you should give originals to people who would like them, shred ones that are "bad" or in which "you or other people look completely crazy," and digitize those you want to keep.

EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

The key to successful death cleaning is fiendish organization. Magnusson advocates dedicated hooks and cubbies for each person's boots and outerwear. Her housecleaning method involves sweeping, dusting and mopping while wearing an apron with a gigantic pocket. Every time you come across something out of place, it goes in the pocket, and at the end of the scouring session, put everything where it belongs or give it to the person responsible for it.

LET YOUR STUFF GO — TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE

What about things like pets, air miles, even URLs you own? They may not have a ton of cash value, but they are precious, and you can decide to leave them to specific people in your will, said lawyer Hailey Zysman. If you're married with a family, your spouse and children automatically inherit everything you own, less any debts, according to provincial laws. Otherwise, your closest relative inherits. If, like many young people, you want to remember an unmarried partner or a friend in your will, you absolutely need to draw one up formally, Zysman said. And, debt-drowned millennials, don't fear: As a general rule, if there's no money in your estate to pay your debts, your loved ones won't have to pay for them unless it was a joint debt, or they co-signed for the loan.

STASH YOUR SECRETS

In her late mother's linen cabinet, Magnusson found carton after carton of secret cigarettes. She says it's a "nice gift" to loved ones to reduce your embarrassing belongings or vices: "Save your favourite dildo — but throw away the other 15!" But what if you want to keep all 15 dildos? You could always talk to a trusted person about handling your, ahem, more sensitive belongings, or even your browser history. Magnusson also advises keeping a book of passwords in a safe place your loved ones know how to find. There isn't yet standard language for putting your social media information in your will, Zysman said, but you can always bring it up if it's important to you.

KEEP YOUR "THROW AWAY" BOX

Magnusson has a solution for what to do with the random junk that you love, but that is totally meaningless to others. Don't leave it all around your home for your family to puzzle over when you're gone. Stow these keepsakes in a shoebox, store it in a safe place, and mark it "Throw Away" so your loved ones know what to do with it.

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