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Estates, encrypted

Friday, June 12
Posted 11 a.m. EDT

Estates, encrypted

Estate planning isn't all about piles of paperwork and spreadsheets. As this article from CNN says, there is a significant online component. What happens if you die and your computer passwords go to your grave with you?

Predictably, there are now services that have come to the rescue. One such online service, Legacy Locker, will provide users with an account where they can indicate who should receive passwords and other online information upon their death. For those who conduct most of their financial transactions on the computer, the hassle-saving benefits are huge.

As founder Jeremy Toeman says in the article, "We know it's kind of morbid, but for those who live their entire lives online, it's also very real."

For a cost of about $30 per year, Legacy Locker allows people to designate who will be the recipient of their online information and even write messages to be distributed posthumously to beneficiaries.

Of course, Legacy Locker is online, and that prompts some concern from financial planners who say that if the service grows, a wealth (literally) of passwords and account numbers will be awaiting hackers.

The important point, planners say, is to think of all the information that will be needed upon your death and let loved ones know its location.

Florida financial planner Leslie Corcoran, founder of Family First Financial Planning in Stuart, Fla., and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has created what she calls an "emergency kit" that each client uses to note (on paper) the existence of all financial accounts; safe deposit boxes and keys; and the location of important papers such as life insurance, mortgage and other vital, important information, including online passwords. That kit is then distributed to trusted individuals.

Corcoran usually sits down with clients face to face to assist them and make sure everything is complete. It's an hour well spent, she says, and it gives clients and their loved ones peace of mind.

-- Posted: Jun. 12, 2009

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