Q&A: Your accounts are likely to outlive you. How to safely store that information

Dear Liz: I’m attempting to become as paperless as possible while also organizing all of our financial information into one place so if one of us dies, the other (or our child) will be able to access everything in one concise source. My current system is downloading all bank and investment accounts and medical payments onto memory sticks. One is kept in the safe deposit box, the other hidden. Is there a better, safer system out there that would not involve a third party?

Answer:
If you’re unwilling to use a secure online storage site, then your system is a reasonable if somewhat laborious option. You should be sure, however, that your trusted person will have access to your computer for the most up-to-date information. The person also probably will need access to your phone, since identity authentication codes are often sent by text.

You’ll need to record passwords for your devices and consider creating a list of logins and passwords for all the sites you regularly use. If you use a password manager, you often can set up emergency access for trusted people.

Going paperless is usually the most convenient, safe and ecologically friendly option, but your trusted person won’t be able to rummage through your desk to find clues about where your assets are, what bills need to be paid and what services should be shut down. Otherwise, as one friend put it, your frequent flier miles could disappear while your Netflix subscription continues indefinitely.

If you want a system that doesn’t involve frequent trips to your safe deposit box, consider sites such as Everplans that allow you to store important information and to name people who can be given access if you’re incapacitated or dead. Your accountant or attorney may be able to recommend other sites that perform similar functions.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How digital estate planning can protect your online life. Also in the news: How to afford the summer of your dreams by building a budget, child tax credits start hitting US families’ bank accounts, and why you should negotiate your real estate agent’s commission in a hot market.

How Digital Estate Planning Can Protect Your Online Life
Name a digital executor and make sure you leave an inventory and login info so valuables and keepsakes aren’t lost.

Afford the Summer of Your Dreams by Building a Budget
To have fun in the sun without getting financially burned, set up a budget for now and later.

Child tax credit starts hitting US families’ bank accounts
Help arrives for parents.

Why You Should Negotiate Your Real Estate Agent’s Commission in a Hot Market
Taking advantage of a seller’s market.