Resolving the uncertain death a tough task

October 26, 2005

Trying to gain control over the daily affairs of someone who has disappeared is no small feat –

as C. J. Woodward discovered this year.

The best friend of Kimberly Oswald Forbes, who vanished on Oct. 31, 2004, was forced into court to overcome that challenge. Once she gained conservatorship, Woodward could take action on Forbes’ behalf. Until that legal move had been taken, she even had one creditor laugh when she tried to explain the situation.

(See A year gone by and still no sign for an update on the case.)

“I think that she thought I was joking, and that Kim was just trying to get out of paying her bills,” said Woodward.

She said there are still many unresolved issues with Forbes’ holdings. For instance, her life insurance remains in limbo for seven years since no one can confirm her death. But at least Woodward can now pay the bills associated with Forbes’ Jeanette Road home and its upkeep.

“It was so overwelming to sit down and go through everything in someone’s life to try to piece it together. You have to sort out what has to be done and in what order,” she said.

Woodward said the experience, difficult as it has been, has taught her a good life lesson. She advises everyone to keep a file handy, in case of an accident or sudden absence, that contains the following information:

* A hard copy of a computer address book, or the password(s) to access that information.

* Copies of the driver’s license number for all family members and registration on all vehicles.

* A complete listing of accounts and insurance contacts.

* Vital statistics of all family members and recent photos. Include the mother’s maiden name of all adults and their place of birth.

* A will or some written legal directive that outlines what should be done with personal property and real estate in the event of an accident, death – or disappearance.

* Appoint a trusted individual with the power of attorney to act on your behalf in the event of an emergency.

* Date all records with the month and the year so that informational updates can be easily tracked.

* Add a second party’s name to your safety deposit box that will allow access even if you are not available. Keep copies of the original papers at home so they can be reviewed after hours if necessary.

* Even if you don’t want to add someone’s name to your checking account, designate on your signature card a person that can access the funds after your death.

Woodward also advises all women traveling alone to tell someone exactly where they will be, when they can be expected to return and who they will be with.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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