What's in a Name

We’ve written about the importance of pre-planning, living wills, trusts, getting affairs in order, as well as the grieving process itself. We thank all of you for your feedback, compliments and encouragements as we continue to strive to become the best in serving you, the community.

What we would like to write about this month is a hodgepodge of information that has been shared with us by families we’ve served. We believe that you will find this information valuable as well.

Many of us get married and it’s just a natural thing, to have all of the utilities put in one name. This doesn’t seem, at the time, that this could become a problem. WRONG!! We have learned that there is much wisdom in putting the electric, gas, telephone, and cable bill in both names.

Why? Because even if you have been married to the deceased for 1-60 years, once the person named on the utility bills die, there is a “turn off” fee, a “turn on” fee and a “security deposit”. Because none of the statements were in the survivor’s name, no credit with the utility or Telephone Company has been established by the survivor. Needless to say, this adds insult to injury, especially at a time of loss. So for the last 6-8 months we’ve been encouraging families, that come in to pre-plan, to also take a look at how they are being billed from these companies. If both names are not on the bills, we strongly encourage you to get that accomplished. It can be done simply by having the person that is named on the bill, contact the company by phone and have the spouse added to the statement. This simple call will save you a few hundred dollars. Many, out of financial need, leave the utilities in the decedent’s name. With Arizona being #1 in identity theft, we always encourage our families to get the name and social security number of the deceased out of circulation. Failure to do so can attribute to undue added “grief”, if you will. This concept should also be exercised with the credit cards. If a spouse never worked outside the home, or never had credit in his/her name, life, after a death occurs, can be even more devastating.

Another valuable piece of information that was called to our attention is to turn in the driver’s license of the deceased to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This can be done when a family member brings in the car titles to have them changed after a death has occurred.

Turning in the deceased’s voters registration is also important. It’s a bit unsettling to get mail in the name of the deceased. This happens a lot but it is usually because the several “mailers” have not been contacted and informed that the death occurred.

Yes, even though this is the field in which we serve, we continue to learn on a daily basis. Our prayer is that this information will save many from added heartache at an already difficult time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information. We value your comments and feedback, as well as ideas. As always, Bill and Ingried Lowman are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (602) 276-3601, toll free (877) 276-3601, and fax (602) 276-1889.

Ingried J. Lowman