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As the New Year rings in, and as another birthday approaches, we were reminded by a post by Intel, about our inevitable death. It is not that we expect to die tomorrow, but as everyone does, we are aging, and as the post reminded us that as more of our lives are spent online, “one of the most critical last words you could say might just be your password.”
Assuming your spouse, like ours, isn’t that financially savvy and you’ve got all your accounts with paperless statemeent, she’d better at least know the password to your email account. If you have Gmail, you can use Email Delegation, instead.
If there’s enough information there, financial information can be gotten via the emails used for paperless statements. However, what if something is needed faster? Here are a few suggestions made by Intel, and a few more, as well.
Legacy Locker: we wrote about Legacy Locker earlier. For $29.99 annually, or for a one-time fee of $299.99 (obviously, doing the math, if you live longer than 10 years, it’s a bargain), you can store an unlimited number of digital assets (usernames and passwords, basically) and have “Legacy Letters” delivered to your beneficiaries. Legacy Locker has a free service that covers three assets and one Legacy Letter.
Once you have died, someone will have to report your death to Legacy Locker, and the company will use their verification process to confirm your death. It will then execute the release of your assets and letters. You can even have your assets delivered to specific beneficiaries in specific ways, not just all assets to all beneficiaries.
Deathswitch: Deathswitch uses email to determine if you are dead, or at least critically disabled. They send you emails based on timing you set up, and if you do not respond to them, the service will delivers e-mails you’ve prepared to the person(s) you’ve designated. Basic service, for one message to one recipient with no attachments. The premium account is $19.95 annually, with up to 30 different messages to up to 10 recipients each.
AssetLock: AssetLock requires uses a system where a specific of your friends / relatives need to log in and confirm your passing. Once the designated number has been reached a time delay is triggered after which your information will be released as you scheduled and determined. The vulnerability here is that these folks need to remember their own login information. Cost is $4.99 monthly or $49.95 annually.
VitalLock: VitalLock is a similar service, but it advertises itself as “The Privacy Company.” In addition to being used in case of death, it also allows you unlimited storage online (encrypted), and encrypted messaging as well. You can set up messages to be sent in the event of death or other incidents. It’s $97 annually for the full-featured VIP account, with a free account that has 1GB of storage.
DataInherit: DataInherit calls itself, first and foremost, “the leading online password safe.” It’s main function, therefore, is to store your passwords. However, it adds the feature “Data Inheritence,” which allows friends and relatives to be send your passwords in the event of your death. Users designate a set of activators who can activate the Inheritance process with a code. The cost is free for 50 passwords and one beneficiary, with additional plans all having unlimited passwords, rising to as much as $16.50 a month for 20 beneficiaries.
Our methodology: we have been using a password protected document file, stored at our spouse’s Google Docs site, and updated as necessary. However, after reading this post by Intel, we’ve decided on a modification.
We currently use LastPass, which is a free password manager, to enable our logins for the Web. Not only does it store my password information, it also logs into sites for us. This includes far more than the financial sites we log into. My new plan is to use LastPass in conjunction with the free plans at Deathswitch and Legacy Lock (both), to provide my spouse with the login information at LastPass, assuming my demise.
Since only one master password needs to be delivered, it’s free. As far as specific documents we may need to save, we already have a Mozy account that is backing up all that information, as well as Google Docs, and that information is stored in LastPass (which also has the concept of Secure Notes in addition to passwords).
At any rate, this is our plan. You should have one, too, whether it is one of the above, ours, or a customized plan. Certainly, if you use more than one password, and they are all strong (as they should be), you need a plan. Let us know what you think in the comments below.