Thursday, May 28, 2009

Two things: Death and access

This is fascinating.

I’ve often wondered about this myself. I keep telling myself I need to get this sort of thing in order (I used to work at the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, so I know how bad it can be not to have a Power of Attorney or Will).

What would happen to your stuff if you were to tragically die (or become incapacitated) unexpectedly?

These days, “stuff” refers not only to your physical belongings but your computer/online stuff as well.

Do you simply give someone your computer password and keep all your important details in a file? Sounds risky.

Do you split clues/passwords up amongst people so that more than one person is needed to get access to your stuff? More secure, but perhaps overly complicated and who knows where all of these people will be when you get hit by a truck – hopefully not with you!

I imagine most Boingboing posts draw a number of comments, but this is one of the very few times I ever felt a desire to check them out. Most of them are innocent enough; some playful (#38), some more nerdy (#16) and some just have too much time on their hands (#41). They get more and more elaborate as people come up with password protecting schemes (holy crap are these people paranoid) until someone deflates the debate with a simple “pen, paper, safety deposit box” solution.

But as we discover, no solution is flawless (#62) and there are a lot of ignorant people out there who think they have the answers (#32…I’m looking in your direction…).

Comment #51 had me laughing at work.

In a world where people keep so much info stored on their computers or online, what method is best to ensure someone can access this stuff after you die – but ONLY that someone?

And who should that someone be? As #64 points out, perhaps it ought not to be the person closest to you, but someone who will be more detached.

Here’s something that I sometimes think about: if I were to die, how would people find out? I have many circles of friends and some of my close friends have never met and do not have each other’s contact info. Some of them are on Facebook (an email to each of the people in my friends list would take care of many – the issue was more complicated in the dark period b.fb.), some are not, some I only have emails for (but who else does?) or a phone number. Should I give someone the means to access my email account in the event of my untimely passing? Who? (Hey man, I’ve got dirt in there!) :P

Do you have a plan for this stuff?


Alison Jutzi said...

I like to live by the philosophy that when I die I won't care. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Thanks for the pick-me-up!


PS said...

When you die, I'll care. :(

And then you'll feel all worm and maggoty inside.


You're welcome! :D

Dan Misener said...

The radio show I work on did a story all about "digital executors."

AFAIK, this whole issue is relatively new to the law (which lags behind all technological change, always), and in Canada anyway, we don't have good legal tools for this sort of thing.