Day 3 of the Legacy Notebook Series
Many aspects of our lives are managed through web-based platforms. Electronic account access is everywhere. Online banking and investing. Paperless billing. Online access to manage health insurance claims. Automatic recurring withdrawals to pay your phone bill, your mortgage, and your electric bill. Cloud-based data storage solutions for photos and documents. E-mail accounts. Social media accounts. So many usernames and passwords to remember, many of which must be changed every few months.
It can be pretty frustrating to try to keep up with them all, particularly for families. More people involved = more passwords to remember.
A few years ago we attempted to keep track of our account usernames and passwords in a spreadsheet (only an accountant, right?). That idea failed miserably. Updating it was cumbersome, especially before the days of easy-access cloud storage. Then for a while, I used a phone app, which worked great right up until my phone died and I learned that my “automatic” phone data backup wasn’t as automatic nor as thorough as I had been led to believe.
After living through the nightmare that is recovering lost usernames and passwords for a multitude of accounts, my quest for a better solution continued. We’ve tried several apps and have found one that serves our purposes well. We use Keeper Security. We like it because we can access the info from our phones, tablets, and computers (accessible pretty much anywhere), you have the ability to create a shared account for families, and it’s secure. Do a little research to find the best app for your needs. Options abound.
All of that to say, it is important to have a system for keeping track of your online accounts. Digital storage of passwords makes the most sense to me, but use the method that works best for you. If you go digital, always use two-factor authentication for apps like this for extra protection against hacking.
Why maintain a list of your online usernames and passwords?
Well, convenience mostly.
In our case, I handle most of our day-to-day bill paying and household management. In the event that I am unable to continue with those tasks (illness, disability, death – all the really fun options to contemplate), without a list of usernames and passwords, my husband would not be able to quickly and easily access our accounts to pick up where I left off in terms of bill paying and other ongoing tasks.
I am helping manage the estate of a family member who was single at the time of his death. Dealing with the day-to-day items for his estate would be so much easier if we knew how to access his accounts. We don’t have the luxury of that information and it made some steps of the process extra-frustrating and time-consuming. Even simple things like getting access to utility accounts to make payment arrangements were tasks that took hours instead of minutes because we just didn’t have much information.
In estate situations like this, you used to be able to rely on collecting a person’s mail over a period of a few weeks to determine things like their utility service providers and get the most recent billing statements on those accounts. So many of our bills are now delivered electronically, this old school option of “putting the pieces together” isn’t as effective today.
Do your family a favor and maintain a list of your online accounts, usernames, and passwords. Keep it secure – whether you use a password app or a handwritten list.
When you are making your list of online accounts, be sure to include your e-mail accounts, social media accounts and any cloud-based data storage solutions you use.
Today’s Action Items:
- Select your password storage method
- Enter and/or update your account listing with current usernames and passwords for all.the.accounts, including e-mail and social media
- Put a note in your legacy notebook or folder directing your VIPs to your online account info. If you use a password management app, then the note you leave needs to include the username and password for the password management app. Oh, the irony.
thanks for reading,
P.S. Looking for the entire series in one place?
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