digital documents

A tip for all ages: secure your important documents, photos, social-media, and health information so that they can be accessed in case of emergency or death, your own.

Important Digital Assets

  • Many online password managers – like LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password – allow you to designate a contact in case of your illness or death. They may call it a family account or an emergency contact, but the general idea is the same. You may need to pay an annual fee for this feature.
  • Your computer and cell phone have logins. These will need to be listed somewhere if you do not have them saved in your password manager. 
  • The more popular cloud-based accounts, such as Apple and Google, allow you to designate a legacy contact who will be able to access some, but not all, of your information. For social media, it’s a mixed bag. Facebook will let you name a legacy contact who can look after your main profile if it is memorialized, but LinkedIn and Twitter will only allow your survivor to request their respective accounts be deleted.
  • You should also specifically give the agent in your durable power of attorney the authority to manage your digital assets during your lifetime, and the executor of your will the same authority after you die. Call it belt and suspenders. In theory these documents, standing alone, should be enough, but online companies are notoriously difficult to work with if you don’t have things set up their way.

Important Paper Documents

Now to the paper which can – let’s face it – be scanned and thrown into the digital barrel at any time.

You need to gather these historical documents: 

  • Birth certificate
  • Social security card
  • Passport
  • Marriage license (and divorce decree as appropriate)
  • Driver’s license
  • Final Judgment for Name Change
  • Adoption Decree
  • Veteran file (DD214, DD215, Report of Separation, Awards and declarations, security clearance) Professional ID cards
  • Death documents: Obituary (write your own and include a picture), list of information for a death certificate (parents’ names, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, your legal name), list of people (with contact information) to be notified,

Documents To Update Regularly

  • Insurance policies: life, property, long-term care, auto, health, dental, disability, homeowners, pet, flood
  • Asset documents: deeds, titles, Certificates of Authenticity, appraisals, corporate records, partnership agreements, closing documents for real property
  • Credit cards (front and back)
  • Bank, Investment Account and Annuity statements and agreements
  • Retirement Account statements
  • Gun ownership records
  • Tax returns
  • Credit report
  • Judgments
  • Health documents: Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA release, Directive to Physicians, lists of medical conditions, medications, doctors and health providers
  • Estate planning documents: Will with any codicils, trust (with list of assets funded into it) with any amendments, Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Guardian, Designation of Burial Agent
  • List of your professionals with contact information: lawyer, CPA, financial advisor, insurance agent

Now tell your agents what you have done, and where the information is kept. 

Get Estate Planning Help With Hammerle Finley Law Firm

Hammerle Finley offers assistance in estate planning, elder law, litigation, real estate law, and business law. If you’re looking for legal assistance, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your options.

Attorney Virginia Hammerle has practiced litigation and estate planning for 40 years. She is founder and managing attorney for Hammerle Finley Law Firm.