As if you don’t have enough to think about, now I’m asking you to consider what happens if you’re unavailable to deal with your online information?
Yes, I am. At the very least, it’s essential to be aware of what’s out there, and it’s not all gloom-n-doom talk.
Today I opened an email from LinkedIn, prompting me to congratulate a woman I knew casually for a workplace anniversary. While meeting in person would have been better, it was still wonderful to see her digital smile.
I grinned at the screen, thinking of the last time we chatted in person, yet knowing I’d never see her again.
LinkedIn doesn’t know she died a few months ago. How would they?
I wonder if anyone in her family saw the post. Did it bring them a moment of fond memory and admiration of her accomplishments, as it did me? I hope so.
There are names in my contact lists of people that have passed on. I don't always delete them from my list. Each time I see the name, I feel a combination of sadness that they’re not here and happiness that I met them. (OK, there were a few people I deleted because I only had them in my list out of necessity, but otherwise, if they’re on my list, it’s because they mean something positive to me.)
Unlike my personal contact list, the impersonal web is full of our information: well-meaning friends tag us in social media posts, and companies keep us on their client and email lists because we use their services.
Those digital connections may bring ease and pleasure, but they can also be problematic if you are absent or unorganized.
What happens if you own cryptocurrency, PayPal, other online banking balances? What about forgotten or unused store credits residing in open accounts? Do you know how many open accounts you actually have? Stores offer discounts for signing up for their credit accounts and many people forget they're open.
What do you think will happen if you pay all your bills online and no one knows what’s due? What if your bank statements are all online and your denied automatic payments deplete your balances from insufficient fund fees? What a headache after you recover!
Consider the true case of someone who paid their life insurance premiums online and was too ill to use the computer. The reminder emails were unread, the premium payment grace period lapsed, the policy canceled for lack of payment, and the heirs were shocked to find the life insurance they expected to receive was unobtainable. An expensive lawsuit ensued and it could have easily been avoided with a little planning.
That’s the end of the gloom-n-doom portion. Let’s move on to more positive thoughts about what you can do to lessen social, financial, and medical nightmares.
Let’s start with my disclaimer (there has to be one, right?) that I have decades of professional experience as a coach and an organizer for hundreds of business and personal clients. So, I can give you credible examples, lots of advice, and plenty of support.
You are hereby advised to review your individual situations with other experts in business records management, attorneys, and insurance fields. They’ll have ideas of what you should save and how to access it, plus general information about the topic.
Make the appointment and get started in the meantime.
Disclaimer 2: Be aware that technically it’s fraud if anyone but you accesses your online accounts. Balance that with the practical reality of how to work around that if you choose.
I understand you might view the task as overly cautious and just plain dull, so let’s make it as simple as possible.
Keep a PAPER list of your passwords and account info. Yes, I said it. Not all information should be digital.
Buy a simple password keeper booklet, or create an Excel or Word file (or other charting or document program) and print it.
Tell someone you trust where you put it. (If there is no one you can trust, well, that’s another issue. Let's talk about it.)
Of course, it’s just dandy if you want to keep it digitally, provided you can remember how to get into your computer if you’re on the couch with a 104 fever. Maybe it’s easier to set it up now so someone else can take care of things if you’re not up to the job? No, you’re not jinxing yourself into being sick by being prepared.
It can be as simple as the sample below. If it’s not simple, you won’t use it; it’s that simple.
I’m aware writing this confidential information affects your sense of privacy and autonomy. You might feel vulnerable. You want to help your trusted family or friends safeguard you and your assets, don't you? Feelings of vulnerability acknowledge, by your lack of planning and action you’re demonstrating that you’re OK with letting impersonal companies keep your money. Can you appreciate the irony in your conflicting thoughts and actions?
This is a BIG subject that we’ll continue to write about in future posts because we care that you keep what's yours. We’ll also help you gather your thoughts and information by phone or onsite if that helps you to get started. (Organizing by phone works.)
Below are links to sites that will give you more information.