Three Ways to Protect Your Digital Assets

The never-ending discussion in the media around our user names and passcodes are usually about how many of our accounts are compromised. On May, 5, 2016, Reuters reported on the hundreds of millions of hacked user names and passwords for email accounts and other websites are being traded in Russia’s criminal underworld.

The only advice that is offered is to change your passcodes frequently, and to not use the same ones on multiple sites. Many of us recognize how difficult it is to manage a few passcodes for the dozens of accounts we use regularly. Perhaps we should be coming up with a better solution than constantly reporting on the ongoing breaches.

Beyond the issue of how to manage our own accounts, is the larger discussion on how to protect and share our digital assets with loved ones as part of our lifestyle. Many of us have joint bank accounts, but don’t realize the individual bill-pay portals can be a huge roadblock when a crisis strikes and you need to step in. I want to make sure my family has a roadmap to step in and fill my duties should I be (hopefully temporarily) unable to perform them.

Beyond bill-payment, I manage most of the household maintenance, so the air filter shipments, details on the warranty for the dryer, and even the name of a plumber that will come after hours are all recorded so this information can be easily accessed.  I also have a list of more than 80 user names, passcodes, and PINs, as well as answers to my security questions documented. Not only do I benefit (c’mon, how many of you will admit to not being able to answer your own security questions?) but this will also benefit my loved ones who might need to access these accounts.

You should have the following items in your tool kit to make sure your loved ones would be able to step in and help you while you are living–and that they have the proper documents to be able to assist you. They include:

  1. Durable power of attorney (DPOA). Every adult over 18 should name someone who could act on their behalf and take care of financial matters. Yours should incorporate language to address the changing issues surrounding your digital assets and footprint. If you haven’t updated your DPOA in five years, it might be time for a tune-up.
  2. Online inventory. Create a list of your user names, passcodes, PINS, and security questions (and keep it up to date) that could be accessed by the individual you have named in your power of attorney. If you use them, set up the legacy contact in Facebook, and the inactive account manager for Google accounts.
  3. Personal data profile. Leave a roadmap of your personal, financial, health and home records. Today, 70 percent of us turning 65 will need three or more years of long-term care. Not only will your loved ones need a copy of your durable power of attorney and healthcare directives, but they will need information to help you live the life you desire.

If you need a simple tool to help get you started, check out the best-selling MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life. If you want a digital version, check out the MemoryBanc Register Flash Drive Edition.

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