Since the relentless snow storm season began earlier this month there have been four house fires within five miles of where I live. In each case the home was a total loss. In some cases pets were casualties. It was devastating for every household involved. There was little or no time to look for necessary items and now these families are faced with trying to reconstruct what they have lost.
This started me thinking about what it would take to piece together the information needed to get re-established with your bank, insurance company, your vital records that prove your identity, not to mention the income tax records that might be needed.
Could you locate the following documents?:
- Your birth certificate?
- Marriage license? Divorce decree?
- Military service records?
- Social security and Medicare IDs?
In my own case, a lot of my information is retrievable online. For instance, I use Carbonite to back up my computer files. I have all the paperwork files in my home stored on “the cloud” with my Paper Tiger Online system so that I can do a key word search which tells me where to look for the exact item I want. I use Evernote to directly transfer online articles, emails, and scanned documents from my computer. All my banking records can be re-established online and my credit card accounts are accessible there as well. But I would need my passwords in order to access any of them.
This is what is referred to as your digital estate and it needs to be factored into any estate plan you might put in place. So, it would be wise to have a means of retrieving your various passwords in a crisis.
- One way would be to create a document with a list of all your passwords and save it on a thumb drive you can keep with you.
- You could print out the document and save it in your filing system.
You could also put in this file a list of your credit cards , bank accounts, a list of the medications you take, and many other items, but you want to have access to this information without letting it fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have it. How do you do that? Who do you trust?
- You could keep copies in a safe-deposit box at your bank.
- You could rotate digital copies with someone you trust to keep them for you so you could access the information if your computer goes haywire or you lost your home.
The important thing is to keep track of your passwords in a safe place that you will remember.