This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features an interview with Chris Jensen, CEO of the online document storage company VaultWorthy.
Ask the Mompreneur:
I manage all my assets online these days. Between online banking and electronic 401(k) statements, how can I make sure everything will be handed down properly should anything happen to me?
With multiple online accounts and digital identities, handing down an inheritance these days can be extremely tricky if you aren’t prepared. With so much information stored online, it is very important that you take steps now to preserve your legacy. While practicing smart password security habits is a good foundation, there are several additional steps that must be taken to ensure that your digital estate is handled properly.
Leave no account behind
The first and most important thing you must keep in mind is that your online estate means more than just bank statements and financial records. Online assets are any account which can be tied to you and your family. This means all social media profiles, e-mail accounts, and any other account which requires a password (yes, even fantasy football teams). Remember to ensure your kids or your executor will have access to each and every one of these accounts when the time comes so that all loose ends can be tied off.
Isolate sensitive accounts from risk
The nature of the internet is instant action. We click on links, banners, and buttons without hesitation. We register for websites, mailing lists, and promotions. But all it takes is just one malicious link for your e-mail account to be compromised. While it is easy to suggest not clicking on every button or registering for every website, we all know that it is easier said than done.
A more realistic solution is to create a separate email address solely for highly sensitive accounts (banking, finances, etc...). This is a critical, yet underused strategy for keeping your digital estate from falling into the wrong hands. Make sure that the username and password for this account are very different from your main email address. Someday, should your main email address become compromised, you’ll be able to contain the damage.
Prevent document tampering
Storing important information online has become increasingly common. This information is no longer restricted to credit card and identity information. The rise of cloud computing gives us the opportunity to store virtually any file online. Accessibility and sustainability of digital documents makes the cloud a desirable place to store files such as contracts, wills, and financial statements. When protecting these files online, it is essential that they cannot be edited or changed so that your interests are preserved after you are gone.
Remember, digital files can be changed relatively easily, so malicious modification should be a concern. Services such as VaultWorthy are perfect for ensuring your documents fall into the right hands and are not changed.
In the end, it all comes down to having a strategy for protecting your online estate. Don’t leave anything to chance, and don’t leave it for “tomorrow.” Take the necessary steps to ensure that your information is collected, protected, and preserved in case the unexpected should happen. Your children will thank you!
Jennie Wong, Ph.D., is a syndicated business writer, executive coach, and the author of “Ask the Mompreneur: Small Business Advice on Starting and Growing Your Own Company,” available at www.JennieWong.com. Email your entrepreneurship questions to TheJennieWong@gmail.com.