3 Things You Need Access to After Losing A Loved One-Their Phone

When I work with families who have recently lost someone and we are needing to understand the full scope of what accounts, services, etc. were in their name, there are three things belonging to their lost loved one that are so, SO helpful to have access to:

  1. Their (smart) phone
  2. Their email
  3. Their physical mail

I’ll go through each one and why they matter, but let’s start with your lost loved one’s smart phone and why it is so helpful to have access to it after they pass:

  • It shows us what accounts were in their name- Which tells us what we need to close down in their name- things like money transfer apps, subscription apps, etc. Apps on their phone may also tell us where they had bank accounts, what credit cards they had, and other miscellaneous financial info in apps like Mint or Trim.
  • It shows a list of important contacts- Their contact list can tell us who we may need to notify of their passing and/or give us a list of people to inform of the funeral services-contacts like their manager, coworkers, church community, etc. In addition, their contact list may also contain the names of their doctors and health-related information that may need to be shared with life insurance companies, home insurance companies, etc.
  • It may contain their password manager app- Which would give us a comprehensive list of websites and accounts they had in their name as well as usernames and passwords. You would, however, need to know their master password to get into the app.
  • It contains texts and voicemails- Messages left from organizations and people trying to get in touch with them are helpful to have access to because it could inform you of things like their potential creditors, important contacts, house services that need to be cancelled, etc.
  • It contains their notes- If you’re like me, you store random but potentially helpful information in the notes app on your phone-anything fromaccount information, passwords (although we do not recommend this!) or just random thoughts that provide insight into who this person was (i.e. prayer lists, grocery lists, etc.).
  • It shows their calendar- And within that calendar, it shows all past and upcoming appointments that either give us helpful information or show us what we may need to cancel on behalf of the person who has passed.
  • It has their photos– I would hate to lose the important photos of the families I work with, which is why I like to make sure we have all of their lost loved one’s photos uploaded to service the rest of the family can access like Google Photos, Amazon Photos or iCloud.
  • It has access to their email- Email is so helpful in also digging up what accounts and important information was in their name. More on that in the next blog post.

And because of how much information is stored within a phone, I recommend my clients do not cancel the service of their lost loved one’s smart phone until we are confident we have gotten everything we need. There are just too many things that can come through on the phone that help us understand what needs to be closed out in their name.

My hope is that this article shows you how important your lost loved one’s phone can be to you, but also show you how important your phone could be to your family should something happen to you. And, the important thing to remember is that unless you share your phone’s passcode with your family or trusted loved one, it is almost impossible for your family to get into your phone after you pass. Many of the cell phone device manufacturers have an incredibly strict privacy policy and will not grant you access even in the most urgent situations. So, please be finding ways to share this information with your family in a secure and confidential way.

*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.

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