Everyone should have their own version of Operation Evening Hill…

Celebrating ‘Operation Evening Hill’ by Annabel James, Founder of Age Space ~ the online resource for anyone anxious about or caring for elderly parents and relatives. Each month Annabel has been sharing her knowledge with us, including many useful tips on how to help the elderly. This post is written from personal experience….

As the end of lockdown seems to be on the horizon, now is the perfect time for a final project. I don’t mean clearing out the kitchen cupboards, as I assume they were done in lockdown 1; or reorganising your wardrobe again.  No, it’s time for the boring stuff, the ‘what if’, ‘in the event of administration that we all shy away from. A project that might have saved time and angst, particularly this year.    

ANNABEL JAMES AND HER FATHER, JIMMY

In my family, it’s called Operation Evening Hill and is a big ring binder with colour coded sub-sections lovingly compiled by my dear, recently departed Dad.  It was only to be read ‘in the event of’ his death.  Four weeks ago, we found ourselves in this sad position.  A month on and it has been our bible, enabling us to do what has needed to be done efficiently and easily, leaving us to focus more on what really matters.  Everyone should have their own version of Operation Evening Hill – here are some of the things we have found and will continue to find, most useful: 

1. Power of Attorney 

My brother and I had the paperwork for POA, but we only activated it in the weeks before dad died; this enabled access to his financial affairs, including his bank account; extremely useful when Dad was unable to do his banking himself.   

2. Contact List 

Dad gave us a lovely list of contacts – friends, neighbours and other useful numbers of people we might need in the initial days and weeks after his death; this included the vicar, the local funeral director, as well the guy who did the garden and the man who originally installed the stairlift.  So – no rootling about in old address books for us, second-guessing who we might need to call.  

3. Order of Service 

He had compiled his own funeral service, hymns, prayers and readings; we tinkered with it only slightly to suit the current covid restrictions.  It was so comforting to know that we were doing what he wanted. 

4. What is where and how it works 

A magical list – where everything is; from the location of the key to the garden shed (in Mum’s kitchen drawer), where he hid his passport to where he had put the “good” silver (under the stairs); maybe not high on the to-do list but my goodness it will save us lots of time looking for the shed key! 

5. Preparing for Probate 

Probably the most important sub-section, crammed with information and paperwork; a copy of his will, information on bank accounts, pension, policies.  In fact, everything my brother needs as his executor to undertake the probate project.   

6. The will 

Dad was an organised man.  In his will, and a separate letter of wishes, he had listed gifts; all pulled together into a single list here for our benefit – from pictures to photographs, the odd ornament to family memorabilia; all is detailed as to whom he has given what, and importantly, where it is in the house.  Once again, we feel fully able to act on his wishes. 

The last sub-section is random thoughts and ideas – things we might find useful, such as the details of a house clearance firm, details for the local plumber, and the estate agents he thought might be good for selling the house when and if the time comes.  

This is not meant to be morbid.  In fact, it has been a joy at a difficult time.  We know how much Dad had prepared for his own death, hoping to make it easier for us.  He lives on through Operation Evening Hill, and it feels wonderful to be able to fulfil his wishes in the way he would have wanted.  So – if you’ve run out of Netflix films to watch in the final weeks of lockdown – you might find this a cathartic use of time for yourself and your parents, particularly after the year we’ve all had; time to take back control in this helpful and useful way. 

For more articles by Annabel James, founder of AgeSpace – your trusted guide to elderly care – click HERE.