2/2/2011 5:04 PM ET|
Don't take passwords to the grave
Both the print and online versions of Kuritz's book include fill-in-the-blank forms to organize this information. Another option is Melanie Cullen's "Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To," from legal self-help publisher Nolo Press.
You also can create a simple spreadsheet that lists accounts, account numbers, contact phone numbers, online IDs and passwords. (I've included on my list due dates for any bills, as well as how those bills are received, online or by mail, and how they're paid, by automatic debit or online bill pay.)
Then you need to tell your trusted someone(s) where to find the documents you've created and stored.
What to include
To get you started on your list, consider including passwords to:
- Your computers and laptops.
- Bank accounts.
- Online bill-payment systems.
- ATM cards.
- Credit cards.
- Brokerage accounts.
- Retail or seller accounts (eBay, Amazon.com, etc.).
- Voice-mail accounts.
- E-mail accounts.
- Home-security systems.
- Computer-security systems.
- Entry gate at gated communities or storage facilities.
- Keyless-entry locks.
- Cell-phone locks.
If you use a safe, be sure to also include the combination or the location of the keys on your list.
Will this be a hassle? Yes, it will. But your effort now could pay huge dividends later in guiding your family through a traumatic time. Show them your love, and get it done.
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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Exactly dbellis! It's a great idea to keep lists of accounts, etc. in case of emergency. But there are legal ramifications here people, and you need to consult an estate attorney to do this right. Using someone else's account name / password to access a financial account after they're dead is illegal, even if you're the rightful heir. You can get into seriously hot water if you take money out of a parent's account, for example - even if they're just disabled and in the hospital! You need a power of attorney granting you permission, or you need to be a joint owner on the account to access it. Take the time to set up the accounts with proper joint owners with rights of survivorship, beneficiaries, and powers of attorney. If it's set up properly, then all you have to do is provide the right paperwork and you'll be given access.
You could create a spreadsheet - then put this information on a "thumb drive" and entrust that to the person who would need to get access to this information. This is especially helpful if that person lives in a different state, etc. Then if they needed to access it - they would have it.
This is really important because a family member was in a coma for 2 months and even though she came out with relatively few health problems, she could not remember many of her passwords to common accounts. It would have been so helpful to her recovery if they could have gotten into her email, social networking, etc. for therapy on how to do many common day to day things again.
dbellis covered this topic well.
One additional issue that scares me... Where do you store the document you create with information about how to accessing your entire wealth? Surely not in a spreadsheet on a computer linked to the internet, and not in hardcopy for someone inappropriate to find. Maybe a safety deposit box? Then there's that pesky key...
Good Advice because you need a new pin number for everything, I do all the bill paying, shopping, and banking however I have always kept a locked box with all the pin numbers in it incase my husband needs to get into something, I also put in the security question answers that are necessary as well.
The recommended solutions make sense, especially the part about not relying on an online company to still be around. Plus there's the data security issue. I like Record Tree, and have recommended it to many clients. RecordTree.com is pc-based, and prints reports, and stays encrypted on your machine. I understand a new version is on the way, with Mac compatibility. The best part is the exhaustive lists of important documents, contacts and resources your loved ones will need.
There is another site called eFarewell that offers this service at no charge, and you have the ability to leave a 20 minute video message to your loved ones. The message and any other multi-media information you choose can be vaulted until after your death.
Many of these comments show a lack of reasonable experience, or a spell checker.
if U leave the info to 'someone U trust', that is a weak link. Living Trusts are a far better than the cookbook approaches discussed in the comments, but they are overpriced and people get taken advantage of.
But probate (even with a 'notebook' will) can deplete assets
If the safe deposit box needs to be opened after a death, this is a standard procedure and therefore there is some protection.
i see a lot of denial and ignorance in the comments; I have yet to read the article but I bookmarked it anyway.
Haha, the people who gave my last comment a "thumbs down" are the same ones who will waste half their lives keeping-up with the social cliqueness by-product of technology, rather than using it to their advantage to do something useful. Have fun forming your identity around Jersey Shore episodes and new iPhone apps, robots :P
"Face book account and other "social network accounts", when you are dead"?--Are these the same people talking here all the time about "those who have millions" to invest for retirement ?--most of those (95 %) have no idea, what Face Book is!---They found something better: "MONEY"
Why is a problem with the password any different from your computer taking a hike? (far more likely) (I change a dead laptop on average every 19 month for all my people.)(This is why most companies copy their hard drive every night, either manually or automatically) (now for 30-40 years).
You are putting far more into this than anyone at the top(courts, banks, tax) care about (they do not really care if you can open your account on line at all). In reality no one cares about your computer or pin except those in your family who wants to quickly see who you really are!---(including FB)
NO ONE better go into your money account/s when you just died. (that includes you marriage partner, especially!--especially if any questions come up later about anything in court.
And finally: You do not have to pay any bills when you are dead, they have to sue the dead person, and that is usually dropped--since lawyers do not work for free either!.
You get a death certificate from/for your "loved one", and go to the bank and a few other places to get the dead persons finances done--all of them (and tittle transfers).
No, Face Book is not even listed on the court papers!
Get real people!
OH--So much for paperless!!--I am sure you print everything out at home for your records anyway, if you have any smarts--so is it really paperless? No, dear friends it is "stamp less" so they can make more profits.--But they tell you about the "green"--but trust me it is all about the "green" (their money) ---not the trees!----You always take a receipt at the gas station fill, right--if you do not, do not bother to battle any wrong bills from the credit card company, if your receipts are non existing!
Yes, and the post office is dying!
But remember you always pay money every time you use a credit card (higher prices (1-7 % (especially in EU)), I see some gas stations are starting to charge extra 10 c for gas again--so they can pay for all that much mileage you get "for free"!
RU Kidding Me - You are the exact person attorneys like. One's that dish out hundreds of dollars on estate planning and power of attorney's. All you need is a simple will designating everything to the respected beneficiaries. My parents have wealth, properties, and assests. Neither would mind if my sibling or I went in in the event of an accident to withdraw money to pay for final expenses and then split everything amongst ourselves. Creating complicated estates and power of attorney's becomes complicated. Why bother?I am glad I won't have to deal with any of that...
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