Today and on into the future more and more of our time and possessions will be housed online. In doing our research, we feel the big take-away is this – you absolutely must consider having a digital plan when you pass that is simple to follow and that two of your loved ones/trustees fully understand and are aware of. Don’t have just one person who knows everything. By having two people aware of everything you are much more likely to have your wishes carried out when you pass. Right now, some of our readers may be already using tools such as Dropbox, 1Password, Last Pass, Google Drive/Docs, and many more. But to who or whom have they communicated the access to any or all of their online passwords? Thankfully, there are free tools that can be used to access all of your critically important documents in an easy way.
Here is what we found:
One great tool designed for managing the digital estate planning process is FidSafe. FidSafe is a free service to anyone. It is provided by Fidelity Investments and it is not required that you are a Fidelity customer to use the service. FidSafe gives you a free and secure way to store all of your documents, notes, and passwords in one place. It is very customizable and allows you to assign a designee if anything happens to you.
Cake is very similar to FidSafe in that it allows you to set up all of your documents and wishes when you pass to make sure that your loved ones have what they need to fulfill your final wishes.
Upon the passing of a loved one, it can be overwhelming to plan a funeral, arrange burial or cremation, and create an obituary among other things. One online solution that can help handle all of this is Ever Loved.
If you are the executor, GoBankingRates has an excellent article on the steps to take upon the passing of a loved one with whom you have been named the executor.
Case Study – Sample Process
This process might not be the best for everyone but we found one family’s process and this is what worked for them and what they thought could work for most people. First, they utilize a secure physical safe at home that three family members had access to. In the safe, they have all original copies of important documents. These documents are the same documents they have in a legacy binder/safe. In addition, they have an envelope that contains three passwords. One password is for the husband’s computer password. This password is essential for their process. The second is the husband’s login and password to his 1Password account. Finally, the login and password to his FidSafe account. This family have it set so that his 1Password account is saved in his FidSafe account and his FidSafe account is saved in his 1Password, so really only one of these two is necessary. Once the three designated family members have access to the envelope in the safe, they then have access to his 1Password account, which contains all 1,000+ online and digital accounts. Now, you might not believe you have this many but as you begin to use a password manager you will be surprised at just how many accounts you have out there. Another password manager out there is LastPass.
Hold An Annual Meeting & Stick To It
Do a reading of your Estate Plan because it will save a lot of time, money and heartache after you pass on. Just like public companies hold quarterly meetings for their stock you should make it a point to hold at the very least an annual meeting on your estate. In my opinion, there is no better way to show how much you love your family than to do this. In fact, depending on the nature of your family dynamics you might even consider having a board-certified estate planning attorney conduct the meeting on your behalf. By doing this there is absolutely no way that arguments can arise upon your passing on the steps that will be taken when that day comes. You might think that taking this step is overkill but trust me when I say it is not. Too often families can be torn apart upon a family member passing. In Texas, it takes a court order to open your safe deposit box, so it would be better in those cases to keep an original copy of your will — and any other documents that might require immediate access — with your attorney, at home in a fireproof safe, etc.
As tempting as it might be, don’t try and complete an estate plan on your own. I know, I know, I am an estate planning attorney. But whether you talk to me or another board-certified expert, I know from my experience that consulting an attorney that specializes in estate planning will almost always save you money and headaches down the road.