Life has gotten a whole lot more complicated than it was when I was a child in the 1970’s. My parents had keys to the house, their business, and our boat. They probably had a few other random keys as well. But they didn’t have long lists of passwords to various websites and financial accounts. Also, my parents had one place that they called home, and didn’t travel like I do.

For years, I was uneasy about what to do. There are numerous companies that offer to hold your passwords. But who can you trust? We are constantly hearing about companies who’s data is breached, with passwords and key information in some stranger’s hands.

Doing nothing ain’t the answer.

If you do nothing, all that will happen is your life will continue to get more complicated. And this poses various risks. For example, what happens if you die or become incapacitated? How will anyone know how to access your accounts and other information?

Here’s what I tell my clients:

  • First, choose a place to store your passwords. I tell my clients to use LastPass or 1Password.
  • Second, write down the password to your LastPass (or 1Password) account and put it in a secure place. For example, you might put your LastPass password in a portable lockbox. The key to that lockbox is on your keychain. Tell your spouse about this. If you own a business, tell your assistants at work about this as well. If anything should happen to you, they know to open the lockbox and get access to your LastPass account.
  • Third, choose a place to store copies of documents and other information. One company I suggest is EverPlans. (Though there are other companies available.) Upload copies of your estate plan documents, passport, driver’s license, and other information to the secure website.
  • Fourth, store your original estate plan documents somewhere safe. This might be a file cabinet in your house or at your office. The one risk with this is that someone can take and destroy documents that they don’t like. However, this is mitigated because you have copies in your EverPlans account.

Why have two accounts for storing information? Because they serve two purposes. With LastPass, when you sign into a website on a computer, the LastPass app will ask if you want to store the login information. This does not currently work from mobile devices. But you can always manually enter the information.

EverPlans, on the other hand, is for storing copies of documents and photographs of things like your passport and driver’s license. You can also store passwords here. But it doesn’t automatically sense when you sign into a website and ask if you want to store the login credentials like LastPass does.

What NOT to do:

  • Do no put your original estate plan documents in a bank safe deposit box. Safe deposit boxes are difficult to access if you are not available. Banks may not grant access to the person named in your documents, even if that person has a key.

Paul Deloughery is an estate and probate litigation, and law insurance dispute consultant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit his website to read more of his blogs or follow him on Twitter!