A few years ago when my wife and I were doing a lot of travelling around the vast Australian continent, it occurred to me that if we were seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle incident, our kids would face a nightmare trying to identify all our assets and liabilities.Before departing on our trip, I spent hours typing up a spreadsheet with every last detail; tax file numbers, financial institution details, health scheme accounts, assets, mortgages, superannuation accounts, shares portfolios and so on. Then I printed it, sealed it in an envelope and placed it with our wills in a four drawer filing cabinet. I told the kids that if anything happened, the wills were in our filing cabinet along with most of our personal documents.It's a sobering thought typing up stuff that someone will access when you're dead or so sick that you can't do anything for yourself.
However, it was an interesting exercise tracking every last dollar of income and expenditure and remembering assets etc that we'd almost forgotten. [I actually keep it up to date as it helps for tax purposes] More importantly, it meant that those two people whom we love most would be saved additional grief trying to sort out our complex affairs after our demise.Fortunately we are still here and the kids haven't had to break open the document cabinet.Recently, I thought of the masses of digital data I have stored here and there (including the copyright to this article which will be mine for 50 years after I die!). My Internet sites, numerous ebooks, reports, client lists, newsletter, affiliate accounts, bank account, tax reports, and other stuff that is online must run into hundreds, possibly thousands of megabytes. My client lists and income and expenditure data is locked away in encrypted files with no record of passwords other than in my memory banks.
If my memory banks suddenly shut down, in the same way that if a hard disk crashes, the key to unlocking much of this information will be gone for eternity. What a mess it could be. What a disaster for my loved ones. Some of the data, passwords and identifying data, leads to accounts from which I obtain weekly or monthly affiliate payments ? they could be deprived of thousands in income to which I would want them to have access.ASIDE: Maybe this gives new meaning to the idea that we can't take it with us?.Now, I'm busily recording all the passwords and other details of anything that will be remotely of use to them, or which they should cancel after my death.
I remember when my father died that my mother and I never thought about submitting his tax return for the year during which he died; we lost thousands of dollars inadvertently because we never gave it a thought. Three years later when we did, it was too late.Although it's a laborious task, recording details of the assets and liabilities you have in your digital life is just as important as recording those in your physical life. By recording what you want your successors to access ? or not to access (your private email etc), you can save much pain and confusion for those you leave behind.I understand that when we make our Last Wills and Testaments nowadays, it is possible to include wishes about the disbursement of our digital existence as well as our physical assets.If you haven't already taken steps to ensure your digital existence goes where and when you want it to, maybe you need to start working on it today.
Copyright 2005 Robin Henry..Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer who sells ebooks, software and third party products to help small to middle-sized businesses and individuals improve performance by accessing smart technology and processes and personal development. He runs his business Desert Wave Enterprises from Alice Springs, Central Australia and can be found at http://www.
dwave.com.au or http://www.winagovtjob.com.
By: Robin Henry