I know, I know....death, morbid subject! Yet death and dying, as we know, is something we think of throughout our lifetime. We ponder what, where, how and why. We also don't plan our death, normally, and sometimes it just comes out of the blue.
A story I heard recently really shook me up and out of denial about getting organized and informing loved ones about usernames, passwords, log-in information, bank accounts, investments, trusts, deeds, policies in the event of sudden death.
Mary was 65 years old. Her husband Bob was in his 80's. Of course, everyone assumed Bob would die first. Well a few weeks ago Mary was in a fatal car accident. After months of grieving Bob settled into a relatively unsettled routine. He started to watch Television, and this was a great coping strategy to keep from crying most moments. One day he was watching his television and it suddenly went out. No TV. He called the cable company and realized he did not have the email or password they asked for to get into Mary's account. He surmised that the company had not been paid and therefore they shut off the cable. Going through his mail confirmed his suspicion. There were notices that the cable would be shut off due to non payment. He became very agitated, and even after explaining the circumstances he could not get the cable company to cooperate with allowing him into the account.
Mary had paid all the bills and she did so on-line. Mary was
very organized and paid everything always on-time, but memorized her usernames and passwords. Bob hired a Professional Organizer to help look through piles of Mary's stuff looking and seeking the magic words, numbers or codes which could help Bob get the bills paid. NOTHING! Bob could not access the bank accounts, the utilities, cable, trash collection, or any on-line accounts Mary had set up. He couldn't even begin to guess what Mary had used for her secret username and passwords. He couldn't get checks associated with her accounts since all accounts were in her name solely. Bob had never been part of keeping up the household and Mary was the sole provider.
Creditors started calling on all the credit card bills and utilities were starting to shut off. It was devastating. Even the mortgage payment could not be paid. The organizer suggested getting an attorney, but even the attorney did not know what to do. Finally the Organizer figured out that getting a death certificate would be the first place to start, in order to show all creditors and utilities and banks that Mary was indeed dead, and that Bob must have permission to close the accounts and set them up in his name. But by the time they were able to accomplish all of that so much damage had been done to Bob's life.
So please keep your passwords to all of your accounts in a book or log and let your loved ones know where it is. Ideally that information would be in a locked place where only you and your family have access. Don't wait another day to share this information and allow everyone you love to know your business! This sharing of personal information will be so helpful in the case of your death!
Call a Professional Organizer to help you set up your business, organize your emails and much, much more!
Marla Stone, MSW (Retired LCSW), Professional Organizer,
Lifestyle Coach, Décor and Feng Shui Specialist
949-709-7000 CALL NOW FOR A FREE 30 MINUTE PHONE CONSULT!
Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of I-Deal-Lifestyle, a Self and Space Organization Service.