Do You Have A State Of The Union?

Back in May, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will. It perked my interest since I had been doing something similar, but I had taken it several steps further.

I have been doing something similar since 2009.  At the time, I was using an Excel spreadsheet to track expenses, creditors, balances and so forth for our business. Now, since technology changes so rapidly, it is a much more thorough Word document that lists all the information important to running our businesses AND our family life. In it you will find what most people keep track of, such as the location of the wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts etc.

You will also find detailed information about the things a lot of people don’t think about. The “techie” stuff. Our world is ever changing into an environment where you set things up for the convenience of your family and forget about them because it is so easy to do so. But what would happen if your spouse, or the person who set these things up for you, was in an accident and died? Horrible thought, but we are taught to know where the life insurance policy is, the will and what is in the bank account. But it doesn’t stop there.

So I have developed in my house what I call the State Of The Union, or SOTU. Granted what is on mine may be a lot more involved than some people. In my case, my husband and I own two companies and are self-employed. But even if you are not self-employed, or only one of you is self-employed, have you taken the time to really both be on the same page about access to information you take for granted everyday? So let’s go through some of the basics.

1. Social Media
As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login. Purcell & Amen, estate attorneys in Missouri, recently blogged that:

“The Nebraska State Legislature has introduced prospective legislation that would require Facebook, the popular social media website, to grant account access to the executor of a deceased Facebook account user. While this appears to be the first legislation directly aimed at granting Facebook access to an executor of an estate, the role of social media in a deceased person’s estate is likely to grow over the coming years.”

I agree we will continue to see more of this type of legislation, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.

2. Email
Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, where you can log on to the email?

3. Websites
Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.

4. Internet/Back up
I know this may seem silly, but in my house setting up the internet and back up systems was delegated to my husband. I was not aware of the logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!

5. Cell phones, land lines,  cable/dish television
Again, having access to logins, passwords, account reps names is vital. Especially with all the options available for “land lines” nowadays.

6. iCloud/iTunes
This brings up another issue. I know Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.

I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal and eBay, but you get the idea. The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. But you cannot ignore how fast life and technology are moving. Inform your spouse or whomever you deem responsible and let them know where to find all of this important information. Then store it somewhere that is accessible to both you. My husband and I use Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. You can use Dropbox or something similar, but the important thing is to keep it up to date.

So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?