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Storing data - Just in case...
Old 04-25-2014, 01:14 PM   #1
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Storing data - Just in case...

In cases of an untimely death, in addition to grief, the survivors are almost always faced with the task of settling the affairs of the deceased.

A Florida neighbor passed away unexpectedly, and his children came to settle the final affairs. While he had a duly executed will, the last five years of his life were a mystery to be unraveled. Sorting out his financial and social affairs was a literal nightmare. Bank accounts, insurance policies, medical bills, loans and obligations of every type had to be sorted out... from scratch. Three very large paper bags, and the contents of a three drawer filing cabinet has to be sorted through... paper by paper. Two weeks of work for two people (me being one of them)...

There were many, many surprises, beyond those which would be expected. The local hospital and several doctors, were dunning for medical bills in excess of 250K, for some recent hospitalizations. Had we not gone through the entire billing history, we would not have dicovered billing errors, and double billing totalling $60+K... In addition, just looking through some innocuous looking documents, we found a somewhat unusual insurance plan from his union membership. This looked to be long forgotten, and no mention in the will. Another $20K... As he used a computer, access was blocked... not only to the desktop, but to other linked websites, to banks, brokers stc... Only after the chance discovery of a password written in pencil under the keyboard, were we able to begin research on possible important links.
To be fair, the neighbor had tried to keep important records, and bonds, titles and an insurance policy were kept in a safety deposit box, but the extra work that we did in research located about $20K, in addition to the above mentioned finds.
And so the point of the post... Whether age 30 or age 90, unexpected disabilities or death are not impossible. Waiting until one is "old enough to die" to draw a pathway to important papars and funds is simply avoiding unpleasant thoughts. Even some unimportant seeming records could mean unecessary work, and at worst, the loss of assets.

As a starter to put perspective on the types of information that should be available, this website provides a free framework that can help sort out the things that could be important for you, your relatives, or a loved one.

Everplans Stores Useful Data In Case of Your (or Someone Else's) Death
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Old 04-25-2014, 01:52 PM   #2
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Fidelity recently invited me to sign up to Fidsafe, which I have done and just started exploring it.
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:42 PM   #3
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Thanks, Imoldernu.

My thought processes on this are not as well developed as yours. One thing that I did recently was to shred a lot of my old and outdated paper bills. I would like to eventually reduce my paper records to very few. Then there are my digital records to think about.

Really, I suppose that when I'm gone, I'm gone, and nobody will really care much about all my records. At least they won't care as much about them as I do. They'll just get a lot of death certificates and give them out as needed, I suppose, and they'll probably pay all the bills (whether I think they are justified or not) from my estate.
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
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Once again, another interesting thread started.

It doesn't really matter to you when you're dead but I would like to leave things tidy and easy to find for DW or whoever.
Then there is the question of electronic backup. A designated thumb drive with all financial things on it might be a good way to go. I am burning CD roms every so often now.
A safety deposit box seems like a bad idea IMHO because it will be frozen to everyone while the court figures out who should have access.
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Old 04-25-2014, 04:14 PM   #5
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I've worried about this too and signed up for a personal capital account. I manage our accounts / finances so I wanted at least an easy way for my wife to know where all our assets are.
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Old 04-25-2014, 04:19 PM   #6
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I keep a document with all necessary account information locked in a safe that my DW, son and executor can access. I keep it updated as things change, but admittedly it could be more difficult as I age. I'm open to suggestions from others on how to improve on this.
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Old 04-25-2014, 04:31 PM   #7
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Fidelity recently invited me to sign up to Fidsafe, which I have done and just started exploring it.
Thanks for that tip. Will you post a short review of it after your exporations? I like the fact that it is encrypted. I started to use a different cloud based storage site until I found that they did not encrypt my data and there was no way to get them to do so.
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:10 PM   #8
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What a great topic! I'll be following this closely.

As I've mentioned here before, I have all this information in a regularly updated single file that is kept on my computer's desktop. There are multiple backups, made daily, some here and some elsewhere.

The file is encrypted, of course, but DW has the key and the key is also in the safe.

But that only covers the obviously foreseeable contingencies, and I would love to have even more assurance. I've never heard of Everplans or Fidsafe.
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:34 PM   #9
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I give DW quarterly a hardcopy list of our accounts that comprise our net worth. Account numbers and phone numbers are included. That would give her a roadmap if anything were to happen to me.

-gauss
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:37 PM   #10
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Fidelity recently invited me to sign up to Fidsafe, which I have done and just started exploring it.
Thanks Alan for the reference. I just signed up without any type of invitation. I also sent them a question to see if encrypted files (where only I hold the key) are allowed in their service. I could not find anything about this in the terms of service, but I thought I would ask before I spend any significant amount of time with the service.

-gauss
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:53 PM   #11
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Thanks for that tip. Will you post a short review of it after your exporations? I like the fact that it is encrypted. I started to use a different cloud based storage site until I found that they did not encrypt my data and there was no way to get them to do so.
I surely will.

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Thanks Alan for the reference. I just signed up without any type of invitation. I also sent them a question to see if encrypted files (where only I hold the key) are allowed in their service. I could not find anything about this in the terms of service, but I thought I would ask before I spend any significant amount of time with the service.

-gauss
I have much of my data as a mixture of electronic and paper, including a spreadsheet with a list of all current accounts and contact numbers including a printout that I keep with a paper copy of our wills, but nothing encrypted.

Since our daughter is the executor and lives hundreds or thousands miles away from us, plus we spend many months a year away from home, I like the thought of being able to store all our important documents online to be able to easily pass onto her.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:03 PM   #12
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Not sure what hapened to the OP link to Everplan... When I went there, the article had links to spreadsheets for planning, that could be imported to Google Drive. Appears they disppeared. Now the website looks confusing to me, and seems to go beyond the original article into more financial planning.

This page has a link to a zipped file that you can download. It contains the extended spreadsheets. (several different formats).

How to Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Everything Document to Keep Your Loved Ones Informed if Worst Comes to Worst

The spreadsheet covers belongings, bill paying info, info on autos, doctors, banks, titles, legal documents, account numbers, and dozens more details, such as expected or assayed values of jewelry, land, antiques etc. As you go through the lists, it becomes more apparent how important the information would be. The suggestion is that the details would be important for not only for spouses but for other family members.
We unexpectedly lost a son 15 years ago, and because we had little information of his personal affairs, it was many months before all of his affairs were settled.

On thinking this over, I believe I'll ask my closest family members to begin a review of these basics for their own records. I wouldn't expect this to be a major project to be updated monthly, or even yearly, but simply a starting point for basic information.

Some of this may sound like overkill but even though DW and I have limited personal valuables, and count none as actual assets, a fast checklist of titled goods and simple jewelry would present a challenge for selling. Nothing of susbstantial value, but...
Lakeside camp,
Florida Mobile,
2 motor scooters
golf cart
Fishing boat
5 vintage bicycles
pontoon paddle boat
canoe
4 electric boat motors
thousands of dollars in tools
moderate coin collection
numerous antiques and paintings
Pearl jewelry
mulitiple pieces of gold or antique jewelry
diamond rings
automobiles

Nothing of substantial value, except real estate. The problem with not detailing the items is that whoever might have to liquidate the estate may not have an idea of the value, and would definitely need the titles or appraisals.

One more story... When we moved into our current home, a very old lady lived across the street from us... She had moved (with her husband from California three years before, and he passed away shortly therefter). No relatives except a nephew who did live in town, but had little contact the this lady. Unbeknownst to him, he was next of kin and when she passed away, he inherited her estate. A little background of this lady and her husband. His career had been in the diplomatic service and his position required world wide travel for some 40 years. Over this time, they had accumulated many mementos, jewelry and antiques.

Nephew had no clue of the value and was going to have a house auction of the goods. We and some other neighbors convinced him to seek an appraisal before selling. I have no idea of the actual value, when some Chicago dealers came, apprised and bought most of the items.... except that the nephew told me that a large jade statue brought $250K, and some Chinese vases were destined to become museum pieces.

So maybe a few hours of making a record could save a lot of work and maybe some substantial money for heirs.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:19 PM   #13
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I give DW quarterly a hardcopy list of our accounts that comprise our net worth. Account numbers and phone numbers are included. That would give her a roadmap if anything were to happen to me.

-gauss
Similar here. I have a folder on my laptop and each quarter I put a copy of statements for all of our accounts. DW and DS know where it is if something should happen to me.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:54 PM   #14
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A couple of comments: 1 there exists software like the following : Offline Windows Password & Registry Editor that allows you to reset the password on a windows machine as long as you can access the cd drive on it (assuming no boot password is installed).
Or you can get a linux live cd and mount the ntfs partition on the linux live cd and look around.
Second you can request transcripts from the IRS of past tax returns which can get you access to what accounts the person had the last year. In addition if you can wait until January and retain access to the mailing address of the person you will get 1099s.
Third check with state unclaimed property custodians on line to see if there are any entries in the file for that person.
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:32 PM   #15
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A couple of comments: 1 there exists software like the following : Offline Windows Password & Registry Editor that allows you to reset the password on a windows machine as long as you can access the cd drive on it (assuming no boot password is installed).
Or you can get a linux live cd and mount the ntfs partition on the linux live cd and look around.
Second you can request transcripts from the IRS of past tax returns which can get you access to what accounts the person had the last year. In addition if you can wait until January and retain access to the mailing address of the person you will get 1099s.
Third check with state unclaimed property custodians on line to see if there are any entries in the file for that person.
I tried a linux live cd and it will mount an ntfs partition. Then you get a usb memory stick and copy the files you want to it.
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Old 04-26-2014, 06:50 AM   #16
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Fidelity recently invited me to sign up to Fidsafe, which I have done and just started exploring it.
Thanks! This is an interesting option. I've been using Dropbox and Google Drive to store copies of critical documents but this looks much more robust.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:03 AM   #17
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A bump here, for the zip file addressed in my above posts... Even if you should decide the develop your own listings, you may want to take a look at the subject matter in the spreadsheets.. There are 14 basic spreadsheets, covering everything from passwords, to emergency plans, to account numbers and contact addresses/phone numbers for bills, insurance, healthcare, health history, doctors etc,etc.
http://edge-cache.lifehacker.com/lif...terinfokit.zip
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:12 AM   #18
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Here is my experience of using fidsafe over the last week.

1) The data is encrypted and always needs a username and password to access your account. This is different to Google Drive and Dropbox which I also use since once I set them up then they are automatically available from my laptop or iPad without entering any password. If my iPad is stolen then it is protected only by the 4 digit pass code and I'm not sure how secure that is.

2) Similarly my laptop is protected on power-on by a password but if that is defeated then Google Drive is available to the user, as well as all the files on the laptop, so confidential data can easily be recovered since I don't have the hard drive encrypted.

3) It is very easy to set up double authentication on Fidsafe, so that each login sends a code to my cellphone that has to be entered as well as the password. Nice feature since I wouldn't expect to be accessing it that often once all the files are uploaded. Once set up, it is a simple click on a box to turn on and off the second level of authentication.

4) It also has a password safe where you can store login and password details for the accounts I use. Currently I use a pass-worded spreadsheet that holds hints to the many passwords I have. I'm a bit nervous about having the passwords readable in any location, but at least with Fidsafe, access to them is via a double authentication password system and they will be stored in an encrypted format. I could also decide to store all my passwords with a random 2 characters at the start or end and know myself to ignore them when I need to look-up a forgotten password.


5) Uploading and downloading files, viewing them etc seems to very straightforward. You can create your tags for viewing and storing as well as use their suggested ones. e.g. under the tag "identification" I would keep copies of birth certificates, SS cards, Passports, driving licenses etc.

I think I may actually use it in earnest as it seems to suit my needs.
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:30 AM   #19
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One more story... When we moved into our current home, a very old lady lived across the street from us... She had moved (with her husband from California three years before, and he passed away shortly therefter). No relatives except a nephew who did live in town, but had little contact the this lady. Unbeknownst to him, he was next of kin and when she passed away, he inherited her estate. A little background of this lady and her husband. His career had been in the diplomatic service and his position required world wide travel for some 40 years. Over this time, they had accumulated many mementos, jewelry and antiques.

Nephew had no clue of the value and was going to have a house auction of the goods. We and some other neighbors convinced him to seek an appraisal before selling. I have no idea of the actual value, when some Chicago dealers came, apprised and bought most of the items.... except that the nephew told me that a large jade statue brought $250K, and some Chinese vases were destined to become museum pieces.

So maybe a few hours of making a record could save a lot of work and maybe some substantial money for heirs.
What an intriguing story! I don't know about most people, but personally I can guarantee you that I don't have a statue worth $250K or any museum pieces. I love art and have a lot of it. Still, none of my pieces would bring more than $50, and most would not be worth even $5. I doubt my heirs would clear as much as $5K even if my entire house contents were sold at an estate sale, and in fact, I would encourage them to get a big dumpster and hire a couple of workmen from Lowe's to put everything in it and have it hauled off.

I love my stuff and it means a lot to me, but realistically I doubt anybody else would want it. There's a reason why those burglars who ransacked my house in January took nothing. Insulting, but understandable!
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:40 AM   #20
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Sounds interesting, but I'm doing the thumb drive in the safety deposit box method.
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