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  • Julie Katz

What you don't know when someone dies can hurt you.

If a loved one died, would you have the resources needed to settle their estate?


A relative of mine passed away suddenly of a heart attack in his early 50's. He was single and no one else knew what insurance company he used, which bank and brokerage firms he had accounts with or even the password on his phone. The family had to wait until these bills and statements came in the mail (increasingly they are electronic) to find out these answers. The phone password was lost forever.




There is a way to prevent this from happening to you. Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer, of the Summit County Probate Court has developed a form (short and long version) to capture that information. It can be found here: https://summitohioprobate.com/personal-records-documents/


Older adults especially, can be wary of letting certain relatives know about passwords or accounts for fear of being taking advantage of. There is no need to give this form to anyone now, just let two people you trust know that you are keeping this in your desk or sock drawer. After your passing they will know where to access it. You can also leave a copy of the form with a trusted adviser, such as a lawyer or financial planner.


If your family doesn't have access to this information it can delay the settlement of your estate. This can be especially hard if someone is financially dependent on you, so this is advice for people of all ages, not just the elderly. And for heaven's sake, don't die without a will, but that is for another post.




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