Why you should share your passwords with someone TODAY

Updated Sep 10 2017
Guest post by SonyaG
Password office decor by DaisyThirteen

Do you have an online life that's larger than just email or facebook. Do you write fanfic, like me, and have a bunch of people waiting for your next chapter? Maybe you post advice in a forum on a hobby you love. Are you close to people who only know your pseudonym?

What if you died? Like, today. Unexpectedly.

Sorry to be brutal, but nothing is certain. I mean, it happened to me…

I was coming from work, doing my regular thing, and the next second I was this close to being gone.

When I got out of surgery and rehabilitation and hospital and started on the long road back, the first thing I did was post an update to my followers. Despite being in a cast, in pain, and still nauseous from head trauma, I really really really did not want to just disappear without a trace.

Then I made a master list of my passwords to email and social accounts and sent it to my sister. Just in case. Like a will. I'm not being morbid, but if the worst happens, I am prepared.

So, go ahead and give a loved one a list of your online passwords. Like, now!

  1. I just spent several hundred dollars having my person will written along with making my dear friend my P.O.A. Though he is computer illiterate, your advice did strike a cord. So I am printing a list of my important passwords so that (with help) he could access my various accounts and pay my final bills.
    Thanks for the advice and truly I am thrilled that you survived your ordeal and have recovered.
    Sincerely, Lynda @ stndglass2@aol.com

    • Thank you for your thoughts and I truly appreciate the sentiment!

      I survived. And I… adapted. And learned a lot about myself too!

      Sonya

  2. Totally valid point. I've been dealing with this lately since I have an online company and I need to make sure my clients are told what's going on if I suddenly disappear. So with that in mind…

    –Consider who is the best person to be your online presence if you are killed/kidnapped/in a coma/run away and join the circus. You obviously want someone you trust, but it also has to be someone who won't be so broken by your absence that they won't remember to do what you asked. I was going to ask my best friend to be my online substitute, but then I realized that if I'm not dead but I am seriously injured, I'll want her with me more than I'll want her online. Maybe she can do both, but maybe not. So I chose someone else.
    –Consider giving them access to your computer altogether. Gotomypc.com is a website that allows you (and other people on the account) to access your computer remotely. Yes, you have to trust that they won't abuse that privilege. But if you a) have documents that change every day that will need to be accessed after your disappearance, b) want your search history wiped (or have secrets that you want destroyed before your spouse can find them), c) change your passwords regularly, then it might just be better to let them get directly into your computer.
    –Have a written plan for your substitute. If you want people online contacted in a particular order, write it down. If you have a message you want posted word for word, write it down. If you want your substitute to know that you have accounts hidden from everyone else, write it down.
    –Make sure that your substitute is known to your IRL loved ones. If you've gone to the trouble to make all these preparations, make sure that your spouse/parent/sibling/executor knows to contact your online substitute in the event of your disappearance. Make sure everyone has everyone else's phone numbers.
    –Set up a hierarchy. Does your substitute get the final say (so to speak) on what's posted in your name? Or are they simply a representative until you or your spouse/parent/sibling is able to speak for you? Is your substitute your CEO or COO?
    –Leave a copy of your instructions with your lawyer.
    –Prepare to die tomorrow, and prepare to die in years. Chances are good that when you die, you won't have the same computer, friends, or even spouse. So remember that preparing for your coma/kidnapping/death is not a one-shot deal. Put a recurring date on your calendar to give your death plans a check-up every year and make sure they're still what you would want.

  3. I have always tried to keep a list of passwords for my husband as part of the 'just in case' file. Unfortunately, he doesn't remember anything about it, even after nearly 10 years of having this discussion a couple times a year. It's also a challenge to keep updated as I change passwords regularly. I hate to keep a digital copy… but I'm not sure the best way to keep it updated and in his memory.

  4. Due to the fact that I can't remember all my passwords, I have a little book with them in it. My roommate knows I have a book. I'm sure she'd look for it and, if she can't read it, and she's visually impaired, she'd give it to someone who could.

    Never do anything you don't want to explain to the paramedics.

  5. If you use LastPass to store passwords, and I strongly recommend it, there's a feature that allows a designated loved one to request access to your account. On their request, it sends an email to your address and if you don't deny the request within a time period you've selected, it will grant access.

    • This is what my husband and I use. Neither of us write down passwords ever, we don't really care enough to know each other's for anything, and I will never remember the character salad he uses as passwords.

  6. On a related note if you run any type of online community (forum, game guild, social media page etc.) please, please, please make sure someone else has the necessary access and knowledge to run it in your absence!

    I've been part of multiple communities which have fallen apart, or had to move home and lost a bunch of stuff in the process, because the one person who was able to do all the technical stuff to keep it going disappeared. It doesn't even take something tragic – in one case it was just that the admin was inactive for the last few months of her degree. But it happened to coincide with major vulnerabilities being discovered in the forum software we were using, so we had tons of spammers and some people had their accounts stolen. But no one knew how to contact her so we couldn't fix it. By the time she came back so many people had stopped visiting the site that it never recovered.

  7. My husband and I printed out a list of all our passwords, along with the master passwords to our password vault software because our passwords change periodically, and put it into our safety deposit box so it's stored offsite in a secure location. When my mom heard about that, she made a list of all her passwords and gave it to us, so we added it to the safety deposit box.

    My husband also has droves of automatic backup solutions for us, and every 6 months or so burns all the backups to blu-ray and takes them to the bank so we have offsite storage for that, too.

  8. I feel like this is a great idea BUT… I know that personally, I change my passwords semi-often – usually because I am forced to (some sites make you change it every X days/weeks/months, or I've forgotten the password to an account I haven't used in a while, etc). I'm pretty confident that any sort of list would be out of date within 1-3 months, and I honestly can't even fathom trying to keep a master list up to date on the regular. Any suggestions?

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