This blog series is focused on the top 3 things I think families should try and access after losing a loved one, especially if they have no idea where to start.
So many times, our family members do not leave behind a clear plan of action or treasure map of where all of their assets, accounts, and important documents live, so we have to work backward. Our blog post last week highlighted how important your lost loved one’s phone can be to uncovering accounts, subscriptions, etc. in their name, but this week we talk about another incredibly helpful tool-their email.
Why do I like to be able to access a person’s email? Many of the benefits of getting access to a lost loved one’s smartphone are similar to the benefits of accessing their email, but here are a few other unique benefits to email specifically:
- It’s needed to reset a password– THIS IS THE NUMBER 1 REASON you need access to their email. Most likely you do not have all of your loved one’s passwords to each account and in order to access their accounts, you will need to reset the password, which is normally routed through their email account. I cannot express how much easier this makes things when we can access the email because so often resetting the password and getting into the account ourselves gives us the ability to cancel accounts and subscriptions without having to make calls to customer service and sending off the death certificate.
- It’s sort-able- In Gmail, there is a great feature where you can sort the entire inbox into categories of important messages (messages sent directly to the person), social (notifications from social media channels), promotions (from shopping sites and recent purchases), etc. It is so great if you are quickly trying to sift through a lot of emails to find the most important information. So, here’s how I look at each tab- I look at the “Social” tab for what social media accounts I need to memorialize, “Promotions” for subscriptions I need to cancel, “Updates” for recent spending and fraudulent spending notifications.
See below image for an example of what this set up looks like.
- It’s searchable-With many email providers, you can search for keywords with an inbox that is relevant to closing out a lost loved one’s accounts or tracking down assets. Keywords I typically use when working with families who have lost someone are things like “life insurance”, “credit card”, “investment”, or “subscription”.
- It contains their contact list-Sometimes email is easier to use when we need to grab a large number of contacts in one pass, and it also tends to show us context of who a particular contact is in relation to your lost loved one. These contacts may be people like insurance brokers, financial advisors, loan officers, etc. who can provide more details to accounts you are trying to access.
- It can be linked to their calendar, photos, documents, etc.-If your loved one had a Gmail account, then that same account is linked to their Google Calendar, Google Photos, Google Docs, Google Drive, and the list goes on. If your lost loved was an avid user of the Google suite, than this can open up so many other avenues of information that we may need.
So let’s hope that in your case, you are able to access both your loved one’s phone and email, which means you are off to a good start of knowing where to locate things.
This topic always seems to be a good time to mention features like the inactive account user setting in Gmail. This feature allows your loved ones to access your email in the event something happens to you. It’s such a great tool that no other email provider is doing yet, and I encourage you to explore it!
*Please note the contents of the Sunny Care Services blog does not serve as legal or financial advice. We recommend you seek counsel from those parties upon taking action of any content mentioned within this blog.