My husband and I got life insurance nine years ago, when our son was just an infant. My dad died when I was just 15, so I knew how important life insurance was. Our will, however, was a different story. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that after dragging our feet for years, we just completed it a few months ago. I know we took a risk by not having a will in place, so I’m glad that it’s finally done.
However, turns out our end of life planning is not done yet.
Keeping Detailed Records for the Surviving Spouse
Now, with so many records and accounts online, we face a unique end of life planning task that those even twenty years ago didn’t face. Leaving a trail so the surviving spouse can access important electronic financial information and accounts is essential.
I do the budget in our family, which means I am the one who accesses all of the accounts online. My husband has no idea where to look for that information. I do have it all written down, but all the passwords and usernames are in a ragged little notebook I use. There are no web addresses either; I just know them. If I were to die before my husband, he’d have no idea how to get into our accounts. I don’t even think he’d know to look in my little notebook.
If you’re the one who handles the finances, you must write down the websites you use as well as the usernames and passwords. However, your task isn’t done yet. You should include in your will where you’re storing the information with all the passwords. Even more importantly, when you change a password or open a new account, you must update the record.
If you’re like many couples where one spouse handles the every day bills and the other handles things like investing, you both must create this document for one another and update it whenever a change in password is made or a new account is added.
Don’t Forget Social Activity on the Web
Your social presence on the web is another topic to consider. If you die, would you like your Facebook page to remain open so family and friends can write on your wall and your children can access the page? Or, would you prefer that the page gets deleted? This might be something that you discuss with your spouse beforehand. Some people don’t like the idea of a Facebook page up and filled with remembrances; others find it comforting.
If you have a blog, what should be done with it? Do you want it to remain available, or would you like the site to end?
Also consider any other sites you use such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. Think about it. Your electronic footprint is likely all over the web.
Chances are you have probably completed your will and have life insurance, especially if you’re a parent. But have you taken these other steps? Should you pass on unexpectedly, the last thing your loved ones want to worry about is figuring out how to access all of your accounts.