Don’t put all of your usernames and pass codes in one place?

numberslistLast night I met up with colleagues from a job I had at the Software Publishers Association (now called the Software & Information Industry Association). Most of us worked technology jobs in our careers and one of my colleagues wanted to know what I thought about the “security experts” telling us to never put all of our pass codes in one place. I recently posted a blog on why it’s important and teach classes encouraging people to put this information in one place.

It’s easy for the IT guy or the security expert to tell us to not have them in one place. However, I’m not sure this is practical in the realm that I focus. In your home and your personal life, the likelihood that someone would break in and steal your usernames and pass codes is very, very, very low. The biggest risk you have is that a family member would use them to steal or snoop on you. If you have that possibility, then you might want to keep the list locked up or hide them and tell only those individuals you would trust to step in and use the information if you ever needed their help.

In your personal life, there is no IT support that can access your email and give access to someone else if something should happen to you. The Terms and Conditions of the user agreements you accepted preclude the ability of others, even with a “Digital Durable Power of Attorney” from accessing those accounts.  Google launched an “inactive account manager” that lets you set up notification and access for others if your account hasn’t been used in three months, however, that is a long time to wait for access if you need to reset a bill pay pass code. 

I stand by my recommendation. Having walked in the shoes of the person that stepped in to help when a loved one was unable to manage their own affairs, I hope you will consider documenting your usernames and pass codes — and ask everyone in your household to do the same. Convinced. 

This is a topic that is near and dear to me. Related stories include:

The Digital Keys to your Estate

The Dirty Remnants of your Digital Footprint

There is no Federal Legislation Governing Digital Assets

Jonesing for the Era of June Cleaver

june cleaver valentineI was so excited with my first mobile phone. It was a car phone that had to be installed. I had a two-hour commute and being able to call my boyfriend was worth the cost of the latest technology.

The expectation to manage the many modes of communication 24/7 has made me reconsider the joy I felt towards that first mobile phone. We now have to manage email, texts and postings on the various social media sites we use on top of mail and home and work numbers.

The change from letters and a home phone to a variety of communication devices has radically changed how we manage our lives and how the companies that we use interact with us and how they provide service. It’s also made managing and organizing personal, financial, online and household accounts and services much more complex.

As I sift through my parents’ papers and try to manage their accounts due to their dementia diagnoses, I envy the era of the Cleavers. More than three years ago, I started to support my parents’ banking and bill pay needs. It took me more than six months just to collect major account details. Just last month a life insurance policy of my mother’s emerged.

This is not a new problem. Today, $58 billion is sitting with a variety of state treasuries and federal agencies representing checking accounts, security deposits and life insurance policies that are unclaimed (CNN Money). Many of these details fall off the radar in a crisis or during the chaos of settling an estate. However, I’m wondering how many accounts I am missing and I have had three years with my parents to collect and organize their important papers. Things are just a lot more complex today and if you don’t already know this, most financial institutions DO NOT ACCEPT even a Durable Power-of-Attorney if it’s not on their letterhead and written by their lawyers.

This month’s edition of Consumer Reports shared that both spouses knew the details about family finances and where to find major account information in only 30 percent of all households. The story went on to report that 86 percent had not updated their wills or other estate planning documents within the previous five years. Without these documents, the laws in your state will dictate how your assets and children are cared for – and you will be paying them to provide that service for your estate regardless of its size.

Several recent news stories highlight the need to document your personal, financial and online details – regardless of your age. The breadth and depth of the impact to individuals of all ages and walks of life continues to surprise me. The Wall Street Journal reported Life and Death Online: Who Controls a Digital Legacy? The article discusses the impact of the digital world on the legacy of an individual when they die. The prime subject of the story was only 16 years old.

There is a lot of material to organize. You can download our free guide to all the important papers and accounts that would make a huge difference to your loved ones should they need it. Make it your special Valentine’s Day gift to your those around you who will be impacted if you have not done this already.

We can also help you get organized. From the MemoryBanc® Register™ that organizes your personal, financial, medical, online and household details, to our Do-It-Now Service to get organized in 2 two-hour sessions, to our secure concierge storage and delivery services to ensure your information gets to the right person when it’s needed most.

We have left the era of June Cleaver far behind, and now I ask you to consider organizing your vital papers and telling family members where to find them. It’s the kindest thing you can do for your loved ones.

Sincerely,
– Kay
Kay Bransford
Chief Curator and Founder, MemoryBanc
P.S. Order a MemoryBanc Register by February 28, 2013 and receive a 10 percent discount. To take advantage of this offer, enter “GRACE” in the coupon code box at www.MemoryBanc.com/Register.

For questions or to place your order by phone, call 703.436.2827.