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Storing Account Information?
Old 03-17-2015, 01:03 PM   #1
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Storing Account Information?

I maintain our family finances and pay the bills. I retired last August and have become increasingly involved in mountaineers and other similar clubs. I have some upcoming hiking, backpacking and climbing trips. DH is getting a bit nervous as the risk factor for some of my activities has increased. I've made a paper list of all of our accounts with logins and passwords for him "just in case".
Later this summer we will meet with an attorney to review our will and set up other legal documents for to assist DD for inevitable decline and deaths. I'm finishing up the remaining details of my Mom's estate and realize how important this is to do now.
I guess my question is, "where do you safely keep this information"?
We recently gave up our safety deposit box and have heard it is not the best option. DH wants to buy a safe for important documents, cash and gun.
Thoughts anyone?
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Old 03-17-2015, 01:34 PM   #2
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An in the floor fire safe is pretty good for documents. Fire safes emit water vapor over time, so documents should be from a Laser printer , not ink jet , IMO. Others may have another opinion. Keeping touch with your atty , to make sure a backup copy of wills and trusts is available. They retire too , and practices move or dissolve.

DO NOT store guns in fire safes. I found out the hard way , a mirror blue finish turned to deep rust , severe pitting. Still functional , but halved the value. If inclined to do so anyway, extreme corrosion protection coating is required, not just the anti-corrosion warping paper. Treat firesafe contents it as if you were burying it in a box underground.

A separate,nice dry gun safe is the only acceptable way to store firearms IMO.
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Old 03-17-2015, 01:51 PM   #3
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"Fireproof" floor safe for important documents.
Most of the really important stuff (info) is stored in online accounts, so I use Dashlane as my secure password manager to manage access to all our financial accounts online.
My wife only needs to know the single master password for Dashlane in order to access all the URLs and userIDs/passwords for every account.
Other than our passports and mortgage documents, I don't use the safe for much else.
Oh yeah, I use BackBlaze to backup all the other important e-docs to the cloud (tax returns, statements, receipts, and of course photos). BackBlaze's backups are encrypted.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:20 PM   #4
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I don't think you really need to have user names and passwords for your accounts for your family to deal with them if something happens to you (not to mention Vanguard, for example, will spank someone for using another person's log in). Just be sure you have the information about the accounts themselves all together in a known place.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:27 PM   #5
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I'm in the process of moving all my critical data to Fidsafe https://www.fidsafe.com/. (Hat tip to fellow member Alan who first posted about this)

I use LastPass, a password manager, and once everything is uploaded I'll give the LastPass access info to a couple of family members. Much easier, and safer (IMHO) than a 3 ring binder.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
I'm in the process of moving all my critical data to Fidsafe https://www.fidsafe.com/. (Hat tip to fellow member Alan who first posted about this)

I use LastPass, a password manager, and once everything is uploaded I'll give the LastPass access info to a couple of family members. Much easier, and safer (IMHO) than a 3 ring binder.
Exactly what I have done, using both LastPass and Fidsafe. It was a little difficult uploading the gun and ammo but I did it and if needed can reproduce them with a 3-D Laser Printer.

I also have a list of Financial Institutions with associated account numbers that I update once per year and give to each of our kids, who also have a copy of our wills. As mentioned above it is not good to use usernames and passwords for someone else's accounts, even if they are your deceased spouse or parent.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:47 PM   #7
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I looked into LastPass, but am not comfortable storing anything in the cloud, encryption nothwithstaning. My brother has been working "in the cloud" for many many years, and advises against storing anything there. For this reason I use password manager Keepass, the database of which is stored in a safe. Other critical documents are kept in the safe as well. I regularly review and revise my document and personal information security situation.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Options View Post
I looked into LastPass, but am not comfortable storing anything in the cloud, encryption nothwithstaning. My brother has been working "in the cloud" for many many years, and advises against storing anything there. For this reason I use password manager Keepass, the database of which is stored in a safe. Other critical documents are kept in the safe as well. I regularly review and revise my document and personal information security situation.
By safe I assume you mean a virtual safe that you open with your password and key file, which you carry around with you (on a mobile device or memory stick etc) so that an outside hacking attempt will fail unless the hacker has the key. Nice.

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KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish). For more information, see the features page.
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:11 PM   #9
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Dashlane and Backblaze do all the encrypting/decrypting on the local device, with very complex and unique keys that change constantly on every local device; no key is stored in the cloud that could unlock the jumbled mess of 1s and 0s in the cloud.

Houses can burn or get flooded, paper can burn, even in a "fireproof" safe, and safes can also be stolen from my house and any relative's house that holds a hardcopy.

My son can't find the milk in the refrigerator (let alone legal or financial documentation), but he can readily remember a single username and password.

I have hardcopies of wills and legal docs from all my brothers and mother from years past. Guess what: All are obsolete now as they never bothered to give me updated copies. And I know I'm too lazy to give them updated copies of my stuff.

Thanks for the FidSafe tip, I had not heard of that.
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Old 03-17-2015, 04:02 PM   #10
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Assuming a change of address is filed after ones demise, between the last years tax return and the 1099's you can get pretty close on what accounts you have. One possibility is the sealed letter with info. Given all the penetrations recently I would stay away from online resources. Of course the question is how many disasters you want to prepare for. If you have a relative that lives in another city, for example do you assume simultaneous disasters in both cities, that still leaves society going enough to make a difference in accounts, and taxes?

Btw it should be noted that it is also illegal do to a transaction on a deceased person's account if not joint, until the executor is appointed. (If joint it does depend on your state).
Note you should also include a list of credit cards so they can be called and notified to turn the accounts off.
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Old 03-17-2015, 04:26 PM   #11
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Storing of passwords locally and storing encrypted files in the cloud is not the weak link in the security chain.

If and when it happens, Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity, etc., will be hacked directly and it won't matter one bit what paperwork you have at home or at a relative's house. And I assume everyone here has online access already and is not using snail mail to manage your accounts? Could the hackers steal your password info?: I suppose it's possible, but not likely worth their trouble: If you were a hacker, would you want access to 1 user account, or 100,000 user accounts?

The obstinance here towards "the cloud" is odd to me. Given the choice between instant (secure) access to all accounts in a digital format, and hunting down a paper copy of my old tax returns, I think my immediate family would choose the former.

Also, and I hesitated to say this before, not everyone is blessed with trustworthy relatives. I speak from experience.
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Old 03-17-2015, 04:35 PM   #12
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Storing of passwords locally and storing encrypted files in the cloud is not the weak link in the security chain.

If and when it happens, Vanguard, Schwab, Fidelity, etc., will be hacked directly and it won't matter one bit what paperwork you have at home or at a relative's house. And I assume everyone here has online access already and is not using snail mail to manage your accounts? Could the hackers steal your password info?: I suppose it's possible, but not likely worth their trouble: If you were a hacker, would you want access to 1 user account, or 100,000 user accounts?

The obstinance here towards "the cloud" is odd to me. Given the choice between instant (secure) access to all accounts in a digital format, and hunting down a paper copy of my old tax returns, I think my immediate family would choose the former.

Also, and I hesitated to say this before, not everyone is blessed with trustworthy relatives. I speak from experience.
In that case that you don't trust relatives leave the information with the person chosen as the executor or the attorney and whoever holds your power of attorney if disabled.
Note that one can make pdf's of tax returns and keep them locally.
I guess I figure that the less that is online, the less that can be hacked at but then I don't efile, and use the cd version of tax software.
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Old 03-17-2015, 06:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dog View Post
I maintain our family finances and pay the bills. I retired last August and have become increasingly involved in mountaineers and other similar clubs. I have some upcoming hiking, backpacking and climbing trips. DH is getting a bit nervous as the risk factor for some of my activities has increased. I've made a paper list of all of our accounts with logins and passwords for him "just in case".
Later this summer we will meet with an attorney to review our will and set up other legal documents for to assist DD for inevitable decline and deaths. I'm finishing up the remaining details of my Mom's estate and realize how important this is to do now.
I guess my question is, "where do you safely keep this information"?
We recently gave up our safety deposit box and have heard it is not the best option. DH wants to buy a safe for important documents, cash and gun.
Thoughts anyone?
Maybe more important is to show DH how to work the accounts - withdraw cash (how, when and from where), how to maintain your investments (or identify the requirements for a FA).

Personally, I think cloud services like LastPass are safe, as long as you don't get "social engineered" into revealing your password in a phishing event or write it down on a paper right next to your computer.

DW has my password in her lastpass account & I have hers in mine.
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Old 03-17-2015, 07:05 PM   #14
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Maybe more important is to show DH how to work the accounts - withdraw cash (how, when and from where), how to maintain your investments (or identify the requirements for a FA).

Personally, I think cloud services like LastPass are safe, as long as you don't get "social engineered" into revealing your password in a phishing event or write it down on a paper right next to your computer.

DW has my password in her lastpass account & I have hers in mine.
Have you given each other a durable power of attorney or are all accounts joint? If not then accessing accounts is technically illegal, as noted elsewhere Vanguard gets upset if they catch you using someone elses account even your spouses.
Then in addition technically for non joint accounts if you die it will be a while till any money is technically avalable, at least till the death certificate is issued and in many cases until the will is set up for probate (if you have a trust and everything is properly titled, it may be just till you get the death certificate and can show it to the folks holding the account so that the new trustee is recognized. (And the trust becomes real and has to file a form 1041).
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Old 03-17-2015, 08:07 PM   #15
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I'll add a little side note to all this - if one of your accounts changed their business names, but you want or need to keep some of the old paperwork, mark it clearly " OLD account, this changed from XYZ Bank to Modern Financial in 1997".

Just going through my in-law's old paperwork, I've come across a few of these, and I have to trust MIL's memory (which is still good) on this. I'm afraid I'll miss some account somewhere. It gets confusing.

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Old 03-17-2015, 08:32 PM   #16
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I do like having the offsite backup of a bank safety deposit box.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:29 PM   #17
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Thanks all for input. With this group I anticipated mixed views :-)

DH and I are joint on credit cards and most accounts. Where not joint, he is my beneficiary and vice-versa. We plan to get DPA and medical directives this summer with DD as backup.

I've learned by experience having this all in place, organized and communicated is key!



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Old 03-18-2015, 12:13 AM   #18
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ERD50 - good advice, I had the same issue wondering what was current when my Dad died. I was going through some of my old papers and saw things that would be confusing (like life ins long since cancelled).

I also learned that banks and brokerages have this thing called TOD, meaning Transfer on Death, it bypasses the estate and probate, which can be lengthy and expensive.
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:37 AM   #19
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I haven't stored anything on-line. What I did was to prepare a document listing all my accounts, the account numbers, approximate balances and the contact information. Nearly everything is in my name but when DH pointed out (quite reasonably) that if I were run over on one of my bicycle rides he'd have access to only the $$ in his checking account, I moved $25K of a bond fund into a Joint account with Right of Survivor.


I do have a cheat sheet in Word with password hints- e.g. "old AT&T password", greekislandyy (I know what Greek island we visited and what year), etc.
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Old 03-18-2015, 11:09 AM   #20
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Have you given each other a durable power of attorney or are all accounts joint?
Yes, all accounts are joint accounts and all property titles (car, house) are in both our names. We have each other as beneficiaries on our IRAs.
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