Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Protect your ASSets.

Pun intended. Watch Nightline lately? Or most any other news program or paper?  Who do you trust with your privacy? Yes, I'm talking about racy photos you send to your paramour(s). Be careful with these (see the links above). But I am also talking about your passwords to digital accounts.

The point here, is not just to protect your ASSets, but all your assets.  Where we have discussed in earlier posts the ways to attempt to safeguard your real, physical assets, we have seldom taken on discussing your digital ones.

Ever been locked out of your email? Its a pain. What if your parent/partner/sibling passed away, and had essential information on their email? How would you access it? What about accessing their social media profiles? Banking records and accounts? Ever thought about this?

Like so many things planning related, a checklist is usually the best way to go about things.

  • Financial and business accounts passwords. Seems obvious, but do you have these written down somewhere? And have a backup to these? How will anyone know about your online stock account, if you don't tell someone, or have a list written down?

  • Email Account passwords. You should change these regularly, but also have them written down, just in case. Gmail, for example, offers some recourse, but like anything you have to mail or fax a request in to, don't hold your breath.

  • Social Media. Some people live on social media, others make their living from it. This can be a real estate asset. Facebook will memorialize an account for you, but I think that is a little creepy. Twitter has a similar policy for deleting an account.

  • Itunes, music, pictures, etc. Bruce Willis did us a favor. Anyone every read those ten page contracts you AGREE to when you buy something on Itunes? Yeah, me either. I guess we should have just gone to the local music store and purchased a CD though, because when you die your song library is going to be worthless. WORTHLESS. How many millions/billions of dollars has itunes made, only for a life estate in the music? What a joke. I get it, from a business standpoint, similar to how, originally, you couldn't just transfer your itunes to someone else's computer or ipod. Now, they charge you $0.30 more. Genius? Maybe, but now when I die, my family has to pay for the same bad one-hit-wonder again at inflation adjusted, 2067 prices? Criminal. In all seriousness, this is the easy one. Back up your hard drive. Then back it up again. Keep the backups in different locations. (Houses burn down. Trust me).

Take Away: The easiest way to accomplish all this is have a pen and paper and a couple of extra hard drives. Every month, back up your stuff, update it, and keep one (or more) off site. Keep it in a safe deposit box. It is not that hard, and it is not that expensive. There are online companies you can pay to have real time, online access and storage, but you probably don't need that. I thought that would be a great business idea: maybe it is, but I was convinced my malpractice insurance wouldn't go for it.

Like any good boy scout/doomsday prepper/zombie apocalypse afficionado, the motto is the same. Just be prepared. Same goes in estate planning.

Also, Valentine's day is coming up. Remember, if you want to forever memorialize your most private and itimate moments via digital media, just make sure you trust who is on the other end. It could come back to haunt you, and you could end up in a class action lawsuit.

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