Prepare to Die

Death isn’t something most of us want to spend time thinking about, but it’s inevitable for all of us. We need to think about passing on our digital assets as well as our physical and financial ones. Most of us know that we should have a will and beneficiaries designated on investment accounts so that our assets are distributed to the right people, but many people don’t even take this first step. However, those of us who live and work online really need to go further, by thinking about how our loved ones should have access to our digital assets, accounts, and information.

Here are a few things that you should consider:

Password management

Create a way for your family to access certain critical accounts or computers. I know one person who has an encrypted database with all of his passwords and the access information is in a sealed envelope in a safe. Other people use a password management system. Whatever you decide, make sure a trusted family member has a way to access your information. How you choose to do this depends on how you manage your passwords and how often you change them. I think most of us could find some creative way to make it easy for our family to gain access to at least a few key accounts.

Technical documentation

Make sure you have documentation about your technology in a place that people can access without having access to one of your systems. This is especially important if you have systems tied together in a complicated manner. If you don’t have another tech-savvy family member, make sure this documentation includes the names and phone numbers of trusted friends who can help.

Client or work contacts

Keep a file or documentation about your clients in a place where other people can access it. At a minimum, you might want to include the name, email address, and phone number of each current client, or your manager or owner at the agency, so that they can be contacted. I tend to keep everything on my password-protected computer, and it would be very difficult for my family to contact my clients if anything happened to me.

Digital assets

Most of us have family photographs and other digital assets that our family will want to access later. Make sure someone knows how to find those important photographs and other documents, and don’t rely on online photo storage services, which might be deleted at some point. If you keep most of your data on your own server (hosted or onsite), leave instructions for how to access and download anything that someone might want to save.

What else can we do to make this easier for our families? How prepared are you?

Steve Anderson provides information to insurance agents about how they can use technology to increase revenue and/or reduce expenses. He speaks professionally to hundreds of agents each year on the future of technology, the social web, and how insurance agencies can establish their Internet presence.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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