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Prepare for the Unexpected – If You Die…

Have you ever thought about what happens to your stuff when you die? Perhaps you have a will. Maybe you have a full fledged estate plan with trusts and the whole nine yards.

But does your family have a way to access your online life?

The digital age we live in means that people have more and more info stored in 1s and 0s all around the world. Think about: you may have email accounts, online calendars, blogs, PayPal accounts, and online savings accounts. If you die, can your family quickly and easily access information they need? What happens to your blogs? What about your company’s website?

Darren Rowse posted a great article today about what happens to your blogs if you die. He explains that blogging and online activity constitutes the primary income for his family. Thus, he created a set of basic documents to explain how to continue onward if something tragic happens to him.

If you have not thought about such issues, I urge you to. Your blog may not amount to more than a personal journal. In which case, it might not matter. But maybe you have some assets in an online savings account. Don’t you want your spouse to have quick access to that, if you should pass away? What about if you are disabled temporarily or in a coma? Unfortunately, the world does not stop for us. Our families will have to continue on, pay our rent, keep up with the utilities, and the like. Make it easier for them.

Organize your info

My advice is to start off with organized files. If you simply have your accounts separated in labeled files, your family can easily figure out what needs to be done. Account numbers and customer service numbers are at the ready, and it doesn’t require any extra work from you.

Additionally, you should maintain a list of passwords. I highly recommend KeePass. You can categorize passwords, provide additional notes, URLs, etc. You set a master password for the database. Put this in a location that is safe and separate from your computer. Maybe write it down and put it in your safe deposit box or firesafe. Make sure someone knows where you keep the key.

Talk to your attorney

If you have any questions about planning for the unexpected, your attorney is a great resource. She has guided many people through this same process, and she knows many of the right questions to ask. She’ll help you think of things you may never have thought about.

Even if you think something is silly, go ahead and bring it up. If something is important to you, be sure to have a contingency plan.

[tags]legal andrew, estate, will, disaster recovery[/tags]

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2 Responses to “Prepare for the Unexpected – If You Die…”

  1. vikkiflusche
    December 24th, 2006

    This is good advice, but shouldn’t it be “when” instead of “if” you die?