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Being hit by a bus: digital legacy
Old 01-14-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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Being hit by a bus: digital legacy

The recent thread on converting savings bonds to electronic bonds got me thinking about legacy/estate issues.

I have a will/trust it is old but not horribly out of date. I've got a cheap document box, which has the saving bonds and some other important paper, plus the will. My sister knows about the box, and may even remember where I told her the key is. So when they open the box they'd find the savings bonds.

At some point I even made a list of accounts and passwords and stuck it in the box, but that has been many years ago and god knows how many password changes ago. Especially, since now days sites push you to change passwords for them every 6 months or so.

The thought occurred to me if I move my saving bonds to electronic bonds, how the hell would anybody even know to look for them on the treasury direct site? I'd least with my brokerage accounts which send electronic statements to my email eventually my executor/heirs would figure out how to get to my email and from there learn. Things like savings bonds don't even get an annual statement.

Now obviously for those of you who are married your spouse would know a lot, but you could be together when the bus hits.

In addition to worrying about financial assets being lost in virtual space after I pass there are other issues. I probably have more virtual friends (including former real life friends who realistically I doubt I'll see more than couple of times for the rest of my life) than real life ones. Who announces that ClifP got hit by a bus last week.

There are websites that promise to protect your digital legacy. This one seems like it does what I want and for $300 for a lifetime access money probably well spent. However, since I really have no plans on departing for the next 30 years, my confidence that this little internet startup is around in 30 years is very low.

Does anybody have good suggestions on handle this problem? are there any large banks, brokerage companies that are doing a good job?
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:47 PM   #2
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Get a bank safety deposit box and keep a second key with your will?

Set it up so your executor or an heir can use the key without more than presenting their I.D. and signing in.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:04 PM   #3
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I don't have a safety deposit box, and don't really have a problem getting one, however I don't think it solves the real problem.

It is unlikely I am going to going to a bank every time I open up a new account, with a brokerage, bank, saving bonds etc. There is no way in hell I am gong to go to one every time I change a password.

I need something where I can store my passwords, account numbers, and this information will be delivered to my heirs/next of kin upon my death with minimal hassles.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:17 PM   #4
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Maybe a password keeping system like LastPass, then put the "master" password in your box (and update it when the password changes, every 6 mo. or whatever)?

Then you don't have to constantly be updating passwords when they change, just the one.

And then a yearly review when you do rebalancing to make sure all electronic money accounts are listed on paper so they know what to look for?

And I'd do written instructions for someone to post "ClifP has passed" type post wherever you want it. Nords might be a good fit for this board, for example, or just have executor do it at your various online hangouts.
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how do You know what you own
Old 01-14-2012, 08:27 PM   #5
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how do You know what you own

You could print out a list or screen shot of the account info. To put is a safe place=where it can't be compromised.

Treasury dept has probably faced this before..people die.

Individual - Death of a Savings Bond Owner

I did see someone on another chatty website that was trying to start up a business of letting people know if a virtual buddy had died. I don't know if she got any takers.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:31 PM   #6
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Scan everything and put it on an encrypted USB key?
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:12 PM   #7
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I thought I had seen this question before on Slashdot. Did a search, turns out it's been on there a few times. Weeding through the joke answers, most suggestions are similar to ones made here already.

But you might get a few ideas, so figured I might as well post em.

http://ask.slashdot.org/askslashdot/...5.shtml?tid=95

http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/05/1531253

http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/10/0014220

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/08/11...your-survivors
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:27 PM   #8
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Every couple of years I'll update a list of accounts and contact information and give it to our 2 children in case of an accident involving both myself and DW. No passwords or anything, but at least they'll know where all our monies are located.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:33 PM   #9
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One way to decipher accounts is to keep paper copies of your income tax returns, as the list the payers. Further every January they will get a 1099 from each account that has any income, which is done on paper per IRS regulations.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:33 PM   #10
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All my passwords are in one electronic place that I use practically daily and DW knows the master password. All encrypted. All accounts are listed there, including locations of hardcopy stuff. Backed up to lots of places. Sealed envelope with instructions and master password with my important documents. I also update a PowerPoint doc, password protected, with info about my retirement planning and keep a shortcut to it on my computer desktop. Hopefully DW will take more interest in this stuff after she retires.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:46 PM   #11
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I maintain an Excel spreadsheet that has a tab for every bank and investment account, including Treasury Direct. Each sheet has the URL, phone #, account number, id and pw as well as a listing of each transaction, and the price and value as of the last update. I maintain a three ring binder with a printout of each sheet. Each time a sheet changes I print it and replace the sheet in the binder.

My wife and son know where the binder is kept, and I have showed them how the sheets are set up. In the same binder are copies of the family trust document, powers of attorney, advanced health care directive, and a listing of personal property (e.g. jewelry) and who is to inherit it. I anticipate adding a sheet on funeral arrangements when I get around to it.

I think that should make it easy for our children when we are gone.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
The recent thread on converting savings bonds to electronic bonds got me thinking about legacy/estate issues.
Does anybody have good suggestions on handle this problem? are there any large banks, brokerage companies that are doing a good job?
Funny you should mention that. I just finished searching the national "Lost & Unclaimed Accounts" database and TreasuryDirect for any assets that my Dad (or his father) might have left adrift. No hits. When his bank starts formally talking to me next week (now that I've passed their conservator hurdles) I need to ask them if he had a safe deposit box. But I haven't seen any annual bills or payments for one.

I don't know of any financial institutions that take care of legacy/estate issues, other than perhaps a trust company. I guess this is what we used to entrust to the legendary "family lawyer". So we're on our own.

I keep a (encrypted/passworded) file of account numbers, websites, computer files & access codes, logins, & passwords. It's a pain to maintain so I only update it every year or two by having spouse pen & ink it. (She asks those commonsense questions like "Hey, our daughter's over 18 years old now-- can we make her the executrix?") It's getting to the point where we'd have to print out the "Your personal symbols and secret questions" pages.

The printout of our accounts is in a folder labeled "If I wake up incapacitated or dead" inside the "Emergencies" hanger of my file drawer. The actual passwords are in a sealed envelope. (Old Navy habit. So that I can tell when somebody's stolen it?) When I went through my Dad's file drawer last year, it was just over 18 months old but everything worked. Whew. Luckily I was able to tell Vanguard from memory what high school he went to and who his best man was.

Secret questions: I use nonsense answers like "Navy blue" for every secret question. There's no semantic answer-checker so there's plenty of flexibility. Grandmother's maiden name? Best man at my wedding? First childhood pet? Year I graduated from school? Same answer. No, it's not really "Navy blue", but that's the idea.

I've written my "Oops" post for this board as well as my obituary. My obit is in the 400-word format required by our alumni magazine and it has all those trivia details like what submarines I was on and what I did. It's one less project for my survivors to have to hassle through when I'm gone, and I had fun adding in a bunch of snarky comments that hopefully they'll know to edit out. But hey, maybe I really will die with her that way!
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:53 AM   #13
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I worry about this also. I have reduced the number of accounts over the years and put all my account login IDs and passwords in Password Safe. But I still worry a bit about access. If DW survives me, she will have a hard time making sense of Password Safe - she has me handle the digital interface with her own accounts. She hates learning PC stuff and just demands that I do anything she doesn't know. Luckily she is smart and we have two kids who will be able to help her out. If I go first she will pick it all up. As to the kids I should devise some method to get them access to Password Safe in case DW dies with me. Or at least make sure an up to date list of accounts and account numbers (sans passwords) is included with copies of our will and trusts. As long as the kids know where the accounts are they will eventually be able to access them through the institutions.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:30 AM   #14
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Some good thoughts above. I'll add these (might be repeating):
1) Keep it simple. Hopefully you have consolidated accounts at only a few places.
2) Have a safe deposit box. This can have instructions in it that point heirs to where other things might be in your house. It is the place to keep instructions safe from burglars. You can store paper bonds there. You can also have pictures of where some secret hiding places are -- including where the bodies are buried .
3) Passwords are only really for joint account holders I think. For other heirs they would probably go through the will/trust legal process and present death certificates to the financial institutions. But I'm not a lawyer and states have different laws.
4) Most institutions will be able to help a distraught widow verbally. She just needs to know the institution name and maybe a telephone password if you set that up. Go through the drill with DW (or DH) if they are not familiar with the process. Do this maybe once per year.
5) May sure you have a will and/or trust. Keep that up to date.
6) Do not depend on others accessing your computer and finding all the files you want them to see. You could put a memory stick in your safe deposit box with the relevant files on it. Mine are in (strong) password protected Excel files that get updated once every 6 months to the safety deposit box. Helps for disaster protection too.

Oh yes, don't drive yourself crazy about this stuff like I have.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
Every couple of years I'll update a list of accounts and contact information and give it to our 2 children in case of an accident involving both myself and DW. No passwords or anything, but at least they'll know where all our monies are located.
I do the same thing plus I tell them where to find the passwords .
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:25 PM   #16
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I would add consider a durable power of attorney because you could well be disabled and unable to act for yourself but not dead, so have the power of attorney drafted. One might also include in the list the name of the attorney you recommend for use both to probate the wills, and if problems come up in the power of attorney process.
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:29 PM   #17
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On the first day of each month, I run a Quicken Net Worth report, which has all our accounts, investments and real property listed. I place the paper report in a binder which has copies of our wills, revocable living trust, POA's, and advance directives. The originals are in our safe deposit box. The binder also has directions as to the location of the safe deposit box and key. DW and our adult childen know where I keep the binder. I have told our adult children to not open the binder unless both DW and I are incapacitated.

Also, I don't rely solely on the internet or E-mail. I get periodic statements for all of our accounts and investments via USPS.
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:11 PM   #18
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...(snip)...

Also, I don't rely solely on the internet or E-mail. I get periodic statements for all of our accounts and investments via USPS.
Sounds like you have it nailed.

Regarding periodic statements, I went electronic some time ago because of security concerns, e.g. mailbox break-in is possible, theft of paper is possible. Of course, electronic hacking is possible too. So I just download to a memory stick nowadays. I keep 1 memory stick in the safe deposit box, and 1 in a hiding place. And don't ask for my address .
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