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Arranging Electronic Access For Your Survivors?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the leave-a-note-on-the-fridge dept.

Communications 335

smee2 writes "In the past, when a family member died, you could look through their files and address books to find all the people and businesses that should be notified that the person is deceased. Now the hard-copy address book is becoming a thing of the past. I keep some contact information in a spreadsheet, but I have many online friends that I only have contact with through web sites such as Flickr. My email accounts have many more people listed than my address book spreadsheet. I have no interest in collecting real world info from all my online contacts. The sites where I have social contact with people from around the world (obviously) require user names and passwords. Two questions: 1. How do you intend to let the executors of your estate or family members know which online sites/people you'd like them to notify of your demise? 2. How are you going to give access to the passwords, etc. needed to access those sites in a way that doesn't cause a security concern while you're still alive?"

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335 comments

More to the point, would you want them to? (4, Funny)

Channard (693317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888009)

'To who it may concern. Please use the below username and password to inform the other posters at AlbinoAmazonAmputeeLovers.com of my sad demise.'

Re:More to the point, would you want them to? (4, Funny)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888091)

'To who it may concern. Please use the below username and password to inform the other posters at AlbinoAmazonAmputeeLovers.com of my sad demise.'

Do it Da Vinci Code style. Lie naked in you pool of blood leaving them clues about Leonardo's paintings! It will be like an Easter Egg chase only everyone will be sad and miserable...

Re:More to the point, would you want them to? (5, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888987)

It will be like an Easter Egg chase only everyone will be sad and miserable...

Redundant much?

Re:More to the point, would you want them to? (2, Insightful)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889693)

only everyone will be sad and miserable...

So then it would be EXACTLY like the movie.

Re:More to the point, would you want them to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888981)

Sorry to be a grammar nazi but.... to whom it may concern. I'm normally sensible and reasonable. who/whom just drives me nuts.

Password Program (2, Funny)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888021)

I have a password keeper on my Palm and my Blackberry. At the moment, every password and game keycode are in the Palm but I need to export that out and into something similar on the computer so I can back it up.

[John]

Very simple.... (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888039)

a USB drive in the fireproof safe next to any important papers. Passwords for things they don't need to see are not on that drive. If you are worried even more, get a safety deposit box at the bank. Keep it updated and all will be ok. Then, on the other hand, some people don't care... the world can figure it out on their own.

Re:Very simple.... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888325)

Make sure that the safe is designed for electronic equipment. Long term exposure to heat makes bits want to dance around where as paper may be fine.

Re:Very simple.... (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889195)

I'm renting a deposit box at a bank, and was surprised to find that the climate control at the boxes was worse than at the office part of the buiding. Hot and moist in the summer. Dry and cool in winter. I wonder if my precious moments video tapes are there any safer than my own desk drawer.

Re:Very simple.... (5, Informative)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888351)

This is what my father did. USB stick, text file, safe deposit box, instructions I was to receive that upon his death. Text file had a list of user names and passwords, along with email addresses I was to contact. Simple and easy. Made dealing with the rest of the arrangements easier...

Re:Very simple.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888637)

Mod parent up. This is really an ideal solution for anyone looking to die before USB is forgotten.

Re:Very simple.... (1)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888799)

Father died of cancer, a little past the six month mark. He kind of saw it coming.

Re:Very simple.... (-1, Troll)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889601)

Wow. He must've really been a stud to have already reproduced at a little past six months old.

Re:Very simple.... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889689)

-1. Inappropriate and rude humor.

Re:Very simple.... (3, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889655)

That was the case when a good friend committed suicide (although some of us still suspect it was an accident, not intentional). He had his password stored in his computer, so it was as simple as turning on the machine, opening the Email client, and sending a message to all his friends on his contact list.

Those who received the message were asked to pass the word onto other forums/friends not included in the list. We also updated his webpage to let visitors know he had passed away.

Re:Very simple.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888807)

I keep a USB drive in my home safe with my death kit on it. I encrypt that, copy that to CD and send it to my lawyer every few months. My sealed Will (at a different attorneys office) has a copy of the decryption key in it, and the will includes instructions on accessing the data.

I include the following:

- Personal information
-- Passwords file with usernames and passwords to all of the websites I use, personal computers and other electronic devices
-- Accounts file with basic information to all of my financial accounts, morgtages, life insurance,
-- Utilities file with all of the information about my utility services
-- Export of my address book
-- Death threats and persons of interest file (my work takes me to interesting places...)
-- House book with things like the keycode for my house, and all of the other stuff related to my house that only exists in my head otherwise
-- Auto book with copies of titles, etc
-- Letters to send

-Work file
-- Current copies of all importiant work related papers
-- Copy of my current Quickbooks file
-- A write-up of what someone needs to do in my job, along with sugestions of who to assign.
-- A copy of my personal file, complete with life insurance info
-- A usernames file with all of the UID and Passwords for running my buisness
-- A TO SHRED document, containing a list of files to be shredded upon my death

Re:Very simple.... (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889181)

Fire proof safes are often designed to protect paper by releasing foam that deprives the environment of oxygen necessary for it to burn. The internal temperature of the safe can and often does exceed several hundred degrees; Easily enough to destroy any electronic equipment. Check the design before you buy, or when you need it most you may find it was lacking.

Re:Very simple.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889443)

That seems to be an important observation, but when you think about it: Unless you die in a fire in your own home, the chances of the documentation being destroyed between your death and when someone goes looking for the information is pretty slim.

Re:Very simple.... (3, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889343)

Why would my relatives need to nose around my private data and accounts when I die? For bank accounts and such, there already is an apparatus to allow them access, and for most private/encrypted data there is no need for access.

This is doubly true of email and online sites such as Slashdot. Unless I'm missing something.

Re:Very simple.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889417)

You're not missing anything. Some people want their survivors to be able to access everything needed with the ease of logging on from home rather than presenting a death certificate to access the accounts. Some even think it would be nice to log on to hobby mail lists you might be active on and say a quick note that you wont' be back online etc. It's always up to you what you want your survivors to do for you when you are gone.

my setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888045)

keep unencrypted discs/disks with whatever you want them to have
keep encrypted discs/disks with unfiltered material from your active backups
ask survivor(s) to kindly chuck computer in shredder upon death.

Seems fairly obvious... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888071)

1.) Isn't this what a will is for?

2.) If you're really concerned about security, you could have the portion of the will that deals with passwords and such encrypted, and keep the encryption key in a different location or with a different agency, with instructions to each that the key is only to be used upon the event of your death.

Re:Seems fairly obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888935)

1.) Do you want to have to update your will every time you change a password or create a new account somewhere?

A better idea (that lots of other people suggest) is a safe deposit box with a listing that you can update more easily.

Will (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888075)

You write a will. Just as you list ALL financial accounts, you also list ALL social networking accounts. Including your passwords for these sites. Instruct your executor to email/post as you to all about your death. Yeah, I know, writing down passwords is not the brightest idea, but hey these are social networking accounts, not truly important things. I.E. Don't give out the key to your house, but do give out the key to your mailbox. Your account number and similar financial information that you have already given to your will is FAR more important. Therefore if you are trusting your executor with all that financial info, you should be able to trust them with a password. If you are truly paranoid, give them a key to a safe deposit box instead of your actual passwords, then keep a copy of the passwords in the safe deposit box.

Re:Will (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889283)

It's not the best idea to put user account information and passwords in a will. Once you die, your last will and testament will be filed in office of the clerk of the court, and then it becomes a public record, accessible to anyone who wishes to view it. Of course, your probate lawyer probably won't file the will immediately, so chances are that whoever is tasked with the responsibility to deal with the user accounts could change the passwords. (Whether it's legal to change the passwords after the owner's death is something that I haven't considered.)

Re:Will (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889381)

So do I need to call my lawyer every time myspace makes me change my password from "password1" to "password2"?

Safety deposit box (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888093)

It's usually a good idea to keep your passwords in a convenient application/file on your computer, but you should keep a hard copy backup somewhere safe, like your bank's safety deposit box. This would help in your scenario, as well as help the original owner out a lot in case they lose their password file for whatever reason.

Shouldn't this be Jeff Probst's job? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888101)

I mean the guy is everywhere with the survivors... on the island, in the desert, etc. etc. If anyone can arrange electronic access for my Survivor TV show, it'll be Jeff.

TDz.

Flash drive in safe deposit box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888105)

Put it all on a flash drive and pay $50 a year for a safe deposit box. You can arrange with the bank for access to the box in the event of your death via their paperwork and/or your will.

just a simple list... on paper. (1)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888109)

keep an updated password list with your will in a safe and or in a safety deposit box.

In lieu of keeping a hard and fast associative list (linking account name to account password) you could keep a list of your accounts on one list and supply a list of "commonly used passwords" and the executors can trial and error their way into your various accounts.

Most of us only use 3-5 different passwords for everything, so the "commonly used passwords" thing would be an easy way around password changes/rotations and staleness of the information.

Of course, if you create a new commonly used password, that list should be updated. So long as your executors can reach atleast your email, they should be able to gain access to anything else.

Re:just a simple list... on paper. (1)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888257)

I don't have such a list. I probably have about 10 different passwords that I use. While this is obviously not the norm, I also keep a password app on my home machine, Password Safe. Any survivor will need a single password to access that database, and then alert everyone in those sites. Since the app uses a single file, put that on a USB stick, hell just name the file with the password.

OTOH, I have very few online contacts, so notifying those people becomes less of a hassle. Besides, how many of those people are going to show up to my funeral anyways?

My father's text file... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888111)

He passed away in August, bout 16 days after my birthday. A few months back when he was still within his wits, he sent me a text file called "Bob's favorite things.txt". In it was a list of sites with his user name and associated passwords with the instructions, "Please archive and terminate these after I'm gone. Notify any friends on this list of my passing." It wasn't the happiest email I ever received from him but I understood. Most were just social networking site stuffs, a few email addresses he kept, an FTP site to some of his attempts at digital photography and so on.

Thankfully it was a small list and when he finally passed away I got on his laptop a few days later and followed his requests. Sent out emails to his contacts notifying them of what happened and that I will keep the accounts open for one month to await a response and provided a link to the obituary so that way they wouldn't have to search to confirm.

Not sure if this answers your question but I guess when all else seems to complicated, just mail a text file to someone you trust.

Unpredicted death? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889625)

I'm sorry about your loss.

While a good suggestion in the cases where you know ahead of time that you'll soon be dead soon, it doesn't work.

It can be adapted easily to unforeseen death, though: hide a slip of paper with the instructions on them inside your computer, and put in your will a request that someone takes apart your computer and follows the instructions. Include instructions for doing so ;)

Safety Deposit Box (2, Insightful)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888113)

You can rent out a safety deposit box, leave your login details (websites to go to, userID/PW combo, what you want them to say, etc.) in there. Keep your key on you. When you die, your spouse or whoever will get the key and be able to retrieve that information.

Obviously, if you change your passwords, you have to change what's in the safety deposit box, so there is some upkeep there.

Re:Safety Deposit Box (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889215)

Obviously, if you change your passwords, you have to change what's in the safety deposit box, so there is some upkeep there.

Actually it can be easier than that. You just need to escrow one single key for decryption somewhere (on a USB key in a safe deposit box seems to be the popular choice).

Then you can keep an encrypted list of passwords on your system and update them whenever you like, with no upkeep unless you decide to change the encryption. After death, the key is released to whoever, they decrypt your list, etc.

There are already plenty of programs that can do this (AnyPassword is one for Windows that I'm aware of, although the encryption strength is not military grade).

BFF (2, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888149)

I'm relatively young, so I haven't put a lot of thought into this, but my best friend knows all the personal account names and passwords I use for everything. He would be able to get into any of my accounts with a few guesses. I don't have a comprehensive list of everything, but the main stuff would get worked out.

And before you security nuts go crazy about telling other people your passwords, keep in mind this is a person I trust above anyone else...even my own close relatives. If I can't trust him, then I must live a truely miserable life of denial full of people who dislike me. I also don't tell him any of the admin passwords at work, as A) other people have acces to those, and B) They aren't my passwords to give out, even though I know he would do no harm (hell he'd probably manage the network better than half our admins...)

Oh, I also know pretty much all his passwords too...so...yeah, he better not try anything :-)

Re:BFF (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888833)

And before you security nuts go crazy about telling other people your passwords, keep in mind this is a person I trust above anyone else...even my own close relatives. If I can't trust him, then I must live a truely miserable life of denial full of people who dislike me.

Not to burst your bubble, but have you ever considered your BFF might be tortured to have your passwords extracted from him?

Not that you'd be keeping information that the CIA maybe interested in but honest and trustworthy people can be made to divulge information either through duress or intoxication.

Its like giving your loved ones a bank account pin and someone holds them up at gunpoint and now they have to decide whether to break your trust or keep their lives. I personally don't like to let people deal with that scenario.

Not that you or I have anything worth that valuable... But people have been beaten up over stupid things like account credentials to online games. Might as well not burden other people with it.

Re:BFF (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889621)

You've got a very good point...and if I had information that was either that valuable or could get me into that much trouble, I would probably seriously consider a different approach.

Come to think of it, the security string on my Truecrypt volume I keep my tax records, paystub scans, and other personal info in has a long-ass security string that he wouldn't know. But he generally knows that stuff anyway...I just keep it that way just in case my PC ever got compromised.

I'm not saying my 'strategy' is the way to go. It just works well enough for me and may work well enough for the OP.

Re:BFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889303)

dummy, he'd obviously change his passwords first... duh.

Re:BFF (4, Funny)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889413)

I'm relatively young, so I haven't put a lot of thought into this, but my best friend knows all the personal account names and passwords I use for everything. He would be able to get into any of my accounts with a few guesses. I don't have a comprehensive list of everything, but the main stuff would get worked out.

And before you security nuts go crazy about telling other people your passwords, keep in mind this is a person I trust above anyone else...even my own close relatives. If I can't trust him, then I must live a truely miserable life of denial full of people who dislike me. I also don't tell him any of the admin passwords at work, as A) other people have acces to those, and B) They aren't my passwords to give out, even though I know he would do no harm (hell he'd probably manage the network better than half our admins...)

Oh, I also know pretty much all his passwords too...so...yeah, he better not try anything :-)

You really expect us to believe that? How do we know this isn't him posting?

google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888171)

gmail is not gong anywhere. Set up an email account just for this purpose. set its password to something very obscure that only you and a loved one would know. when you set or change a password, send an email to that account, subject is the site, text is the username/password. You do not even need to ever log in and clean it up. Leave instructions with your will that they are to check that email account and hint what the password is (Dear significant other, check this email account, the password is what you said the first time you saw me naked (thatlookslikeapenisonlysmaller). Problem solved.

It's assumed (5, Funny)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888175)

I've notified all of my Myspace friends that if they don't hear from me for a 48 hour period, it is likely that I am dead and they should just assume that is the case.

Re:It's assumed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888341)

OMG LOL WHUT?

TrueCrypt (4, Insightful)

chinakow (83588) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888191)

Write everything important in a TrueCrypt file system, email it to those who you would want to have it. Then pay for a safe deposit box, in the box put the password(and keyfiles as you see fit). The executor of your estate will be able to gain access to the box and if you add them as a signer it would be trivial, just don't let them have the key until you are dead.

Re:TrueCrypt (3, Informative)

cbciv (719774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889257)

Write everything important in a TrueCrypt file system, email it to those who you would want to have it. Then pay for a safe deposit box, in the box put the password(and keyfiles as you see fit). The executor of your estate will be able to gain access to the box and if you add them as a signer it would be trivial, just don't let them have the key until you are dead.

Note that how easily the executor can gain access to the box, even if they are a signatory, will depend on the laws of the jurisdiction. Check with an estate attorney before putting anything in the box that would be needed soon after your death.

Leave a puzzle (1)

g253 (855070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888193)

That's an interesting question, and a difficult one.

I'd suggest putting instructions in a letter, including necessary passwords and so on, and protect it with a password that should be easy to guess for someone close to you.

Or leave a file with the passwords on your computer or on a usb key, and put the password to access it in your will. Sure that's rather low security theoretically, but if you make it clear in your will that the password releases only contact information, who would bother trying to access that?

My plan... (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888217)

I'm going to have the executor of my will put posts up on websites that I frequent with a link to a streaming video of my funeral. That way no one will give my executor that whole "pic's or it isn't real" response.

Anonymous Coward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888223)

Sames as other "you dead" stuff.

A sealed letter with the lawyer / safety deposit box deal.

I have heard of so called dooms day setups where a chron like timmer is running and if you do not "touch it" .. it will send out a "I'm dead" notice to all the important online stuff .. like your disney world account ..

Just give the mess to your excutor to deal with ..maybe just some large unsub email list..

what do i care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888259)

being dead and all, i cant really see myself giving a damn.

Am I just being cynical... (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888263)

.. or would anyone else doubt the supposed claim of a person's death. I know there's been several cases where someone online has supposedly posted their death, just to create drama and attention, only for it to be later revealed they're alive and well? Certainly on networking sites, at least.

Re:Am I just being cynical... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888371)

Countermeasure - Have them (executor of your estate or whoever you are having do the announcing) include a link to the obituary in the local paper.

Re:Am I just being cynical... (2, Insightful)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888429)

Make sure the survivor leaves a link to the obituary for the local paper, you'd have to go thru too much trouble to fake that one. At least that's what I'd do.

Re:Am I just being cynical... (1)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888699)

DeadManCoding is correct. Look for the obit in the local paper. Most obits also list the funeral home that will be providing the services as well as a location where the body will be put to rest (if this was their option, cremation makes things harder). The funeral home will have a record if the services (IE, they received the person) were performed there. They would also know how to find out where said person is buried. I do not know because I think this varies state to state, but...The fact of death (name, date, place) of an individual is public knowledge. Death certificates themselves may be a confidential record for X years... Anyone know more about this? It is all I can remember from when my father passed in August.

Re:Am I just being cynical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889001)

IE is a browser.

i.e. is short for something in Latin. I think you meant the latter.

Re:Am I just being cynical... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888973)

I presume you have experience in these matters. ;)

Re:Am I just being cynical... (1)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889049)

Actually, I do have a bit of experience. Grandfather died about a month ago, and uncle died about a week before that. It's been a rough year for the family, so the geek had to help. ;)

Simple, really (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888275)

the password to all my accounts and encrypted partitions is

first%20post

What's funnier is that you are not kidding (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889323)

as you posted anonymously to avoid anyone hacking your accounts!

Leave an algorithm (1)

Jefficus (1062474) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888471)

I use an algorithm to transform the URL into a password (it's easy to do in my head, but hard to crack). My will has a disclosure of the algorithm. As for which sites, they're all in a bookmarks folder called "Important Sites" in my browser. And anybody who can't put those two items together isn't really executor material.

Re:Leave an algorithm (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889291)

So your password to donkeypr0n.com is !donkeypr0n_com? Ha now you are p0wned!

Death Notification Service (4, Interesting)

kcitren (72383) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888501)

This was actually part of a business idea of mine about 8 years ago. A type of death notification service. The idea was that you'd periodically give the service an updated list of people you'd like contacted if you die, along with any special messages / instructions (within reason). The company would know where you live (city and state at a minimum), and would do a daily check of the obituaries / death notices / etc. If you came up potentially dead, the company would attempt to contact you. Assuming you're dead, the messages would be sent out as requested. This is a great idea for people who have many online or non-local contacts, secret second families, etc.

justincaseidie.com (1)

biohack (955639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888913)

I recently read about justincaseidie.com, which offers a simple digital notification service. From their website:

... in just a few clicks, you can save a message that will only be sent to it's intended recipient if you die. Well...almost. It will actually only be sent if you fail to log back in to the system within the timeframe that you set, we're just sort of assuming that only death would stop you doing this.

Easy (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888557)

Use a password vault, leave the password to the password vault in your will.
Next.

Survivors? (5, Funny)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888567)

I don't plan on leaving any survivors. I plan on taking everyone out in one fell swoop.

Re:Survivors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888823)

If you require any assistance in this, please let me know. We share a similar goal.

Re:Survivors? (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888897)

I find it deeply deeply disturbing that this has been modded "Interesting". "Funny" I could see, and sadly /. doesn't yet have "Fuck I hope he's joking", but "Informative"?

Jenny Craig Survivors? (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889031)

I don't plan on leaving any survivors. I plan on taking everyone out in one fell swoop.

[Insert joke here about tripping over one's shoelaces]

Re:Survivors? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889139)

The frightening thing is you are modded interesting..

Some sick and twisted people here.

I went further. The rings on my and my wifes hands together make up the encryption key to access the file I have of all my usernames and passwords on a thumbdrive in the safe. the combination to the safe is inside the ring on my and her rings.

The celtic runes when translated to english = the 25 character passphrase that decrypts the data.

works great and the kids and everyone else knows this. Although my mother told me to stop playing spy and rolled her eyes at me.

are you kidding? (4, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889579)

I can't even think how long the list of possible 'failure points' to your system.

you go missing- airplane crash- fall under a road paver- into a wood chipper- vat of acid- really unlucky gun shot while you were holding out your hands begging for your life...

You have to be freaking kidding if that is your i'm dead- you are covered methodology.

it'd be like having your life insurance policy in your wallet at all times.

Re:Survivors? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889587)

Thats wierd... Usually your mom loves playing spy with me. Last night she was Pussy Galore.

Re:Survivors? (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889661)

So what you're saying is, One Ring to rule them all...

Spreadsheet + hardcopy (1)

dontspellsogood (674913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888603)

Im more concerned with the leaving my survivors with enough access to settle my accounts; I'm somewhat anal about this having seen relative's spouses go through weeks/months of discovering files and accounts and lots of pain when really they should just focus on their loss.

I keep track of my family finances (my wife really doesn't care so long as the bills are paid and I can tell her how much she can spend every month) in MS Money and various spreadsheets. They're all backed up and my wife knows where they are.

I have a spreadsheet that itemizes all accounts whether they are bank accounts, loan/mortgage accounts, credit cards, reward plan, frequent flier, utilities, bills etc. including:
account #, payment frequency, the login** for online access, and whether or not statements/news/notices are mailed, or emailed and to which of my accounts they are sent, and if a password reset/identity check security question is asked, what it is; ** my wife knows the passwords I rotate between for my online accounts, as well as the answers to the various securty questions; there's also a copy of this password list left with my parents should we both befall tragedy) This account list gets printed out every few months or when it changes and stored at the front of the filing cabinet for easy reference.

All of these files are backed up weekly, and every 6 months or so all of them are burned to DVD (along with all of our other personal docs, digital photos etc) and sent to one of our parents.
Neither of us have a will yet, but when we do, it will contain instructions on how to retreive these files and how all accounts should be settled (before the kids get their cut that is)

Other Ask Slashdots... (5, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888639)

Incidentally, related questions have been the topic of previous "Ask Slashdot" stories:

What Does Your Dead Man's Switch Do [slashdot.org]

Your Digital Inheritance [slashdot.org]

What Happens To Your Data When You Die [slashdot.org]

I think the take-home message from most of those discussions is that you need to make preparations. Just like with everything else in your life, you should ideally keep things organized enough so that your survivors can deal with it, both in terms of wrapping up your estate, and keeping the things that matter. So this means keeping a list of passwords and encryption keys somewhere (e.g. in a safe deposit box), and even instructions about what to do with various accounts. Your data should also be organized so that your family can make copies of things like photos and find nostalgic things that you've written.

Another point to consider is the things that you don't want your survivors seeing. If you have any secrets you want to take to your grave, be sure to encrypt them. And for the sake of your children's sanity, hide your porn! (Or label it so they can avoid it!)

Re:Other Ask Slashdots... (4, Funny)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889501)

Dear sir, are you suggesting that similar content has been published on Slashdot on separate occasions?!

Simple. (1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888657)

(1) Include your BIOS/OS login password is included in your will.
(2) write an email announcing your untimely demise in an email, and save the draft. (include all of your online buddies that you would want to know as a BCC)
(3) inform next-of-kin of this draft and you desire to have it sent.

I have used the 'net for many years (my first ICQ account started with a 2, and my /. account was 5 digits {but I forgot the password on that one}) and of all the 'social' sites that I visit I am most active on Slashdot. I doubt any of you would even notice if I just stopped posting one day.

I had a lot of Usenet contacts and IRC contacts over those years, the only ones that still 'matter' I have email addresses for.

Re:Simple. (1)

ggpauly (263626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889575)

This brings to mind that with 7 digit /. accounts deaths of account holders must happen several times a week.

Hello, the person you know as sexmonkey69 has died (3, Insightful)

KevMar (471257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888719)

Sometimes is ok to just let the account expire.

If its someone important, they will find out your dead from loved ones or other connections. If its some random person you met on the internet, do they realy need to know? While social networking is all the buz, is that the best place to tell someone about a persons death?

Re:Hello, the person you know as sexmonkey69 has d (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889025)

It's true, some accounts you would probably just let die with you. But there are other things which are more important. I don't think I would have /. notified if I died, because I'm not important enough around here for anyone to care, but, you know, maybe if I was involved in an online gaming clan/guild, I might want them notified when I passed. Perhaps if I was the maintainer for an open source software program, it might be good to notify the users and/or upstream maintainers (e.g. if a Debian package maintainer died, it'd be nice for the Debian project to know so they can pick another maintainer). Maybe I maintain a server which is going to go down, the users of which should maybe be notified so that they can get off whatever stuff they need to.

Maybe an online friend entrusted me with an encrypted truecrypt file of stuff they wanted me to hold as 'off-site backup' for them, maybe my next of kin or estate executor should know about that, so they can notify the person who gave me the copy, so that they can either find someone else to hold backups for them, or if necessary, retrieve the backup from your next-of-kin/executor.

Re:Hello, the person you know as sexmonkey69 has d (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889375)

When I played WoW, I had a lot of "friends" online. When I stopped, none of them really cared. When I came back, none of them really remembered me. When I stopped again, none of them really cared.

Sooner or later you will realize that most online "friends" aren't really that close.

I am going to be dead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25888827)

so who cares?

Seriously, why do people care about things after they are dead. I mean the whole world might be a dream and when you die everything stops. Who gives a damn what happens after you are dead? You are not going to be there or then, so why care??

Make it easy (4, Informative)

a9db0 (31053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888847)

To your will (you do have a will, don't you?) attach a printed list of user id/passwords for websites, email accounts, etc. Update semi-annually. Also useful is a financial disclosure listing all of your bank accounts, utility accounts, mortgage information, credit cards, etc. Add a note with the location of your KeePass database (or equivalent), and the master password for it. File all of this (in paper and electronic form) in a very safe but accessible location - a home safe, a lawyer's office, a bank's trust office. DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR SAFE DEPOSIT BOX. If you are deceased the bank is not supposed to grant access to anyone until your estate is in probate, which will be tough if your will's in the box.

The reason you need the lists in paper form is that you cannot be sure of the technical skill or emotional state of those who will be dealing with the aftermath of your death.

From Ender's Shadow ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888939)

Before we start the flames about Orson Scott Card -- in one of the Ender's Shadow books, one of the characters (not going to say which, for the obvious spoilers), was revealed to have a system where that if they didn't do something every day, it would e-mail a message.

This seems like a rather trivial thing -- you can store it PGP encrypted, and keep it updated as information changes, but only gets sent out when you don't do some specified task. Of course, if you ever go on vacation where you don't have internet access, it might trigger, so it may be that you need an alternate way to 'stall' it (eg, be able to a week or a month, or specify a set period in advance that you don't have to check in) ... you most likely wouldn't want to set it to a month by default, or there wouldn't be enough time for someone to notify people of the funeral.

For those of a more entrepreneurial bent, you could set up a server and offer this to people for a nominal fee. Of course, one network outage so no one could get in for a day or two, and the thing triggers, so make sure you're hosted at a site with a good record of uptime and offers SLAs. Maybe offer an alternate reporting method (eg, call a phone number, send a text message, etc.)

This is easy. (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889193)

1. How do you intend to let the executors of your estate or family members know which online sites/people you'd like them to notify of your demise?

In your will.

2. How are you going to give access to the passwords, etc. needed to access those sites in a way that doesn't cause a security concern while you're still alive?

By leaving your will with your lawyer.

How we got my boss' passwords when this happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889201)

My former boss was killed by a drunk driver ( http://purdueexponent.org/?module=article&story_id=4009 )

how we solved this was he had a piece of paper with his passwords on it in his wallet. (he also had them somewhere else, not sure anymore).

what's weird is I still remember that Super-Bowl Sunday, and the fact that someone else just got killed not even a mile away from where it happened to him yesterday (same road: http://jconline.com/article/20081125/NEWS/811250336&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL )

Re:How we got my boss' passwords when this happene (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889583)

Please, stop drinking and driving!
Sure, the first guy was your boss, but what did the second person do to deserve your drunken rage?

do the easy route (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889295)

Kill yourself in such a spectacular fashion that it will make the rounds on the net. Then anyone you would have wanted to inform about your demise would see the video, say "Oh, that's so you," and thus be informed.

Been there (1)

wift (164108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889379)

I was given the job of recovering data on a PC whose owner had passed away. I booted up his machine which logged into AOL automatically where I was IM'd by a friend of his. Let's just say what I found on this guy's machine made me not want to touch he keyboard too long nor talk to his friends. I just told him that he passed away suddenly and I was asked by his brother to find any pics or data needed for his estate or as I like to call it, the truth. Thankfully nothing illegal was on the drive but I'm sure the deceased rather not have someone finding out what he was into in life.

No need (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889397)

When I die, there will be no survivors left. The walking undead don't count and have no need for my data, they will have already eaten my brain.

My survivors? (1)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889449)

The Vault-Tec Corporation will be providing them all with Pip-Boy 3000s. We were talking about surviving nuclear war, right?

Facebook (4, Funny)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889473)

Just put in my will: Please update my facebook status....question being, what would it say...? "Joe is wormfood, see ya soon".

Safe + Email is the key (4, Insightful)

gigne (990887) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889475)

I thought about this a couple of years ago when I had a health scare, this is what I came up with.

USB stick (or whatever it will be in x years) in a safe at home.
I have a paper will, with the usual stuff, plus an email address, and what to write in the subject and body.
The person that receives my will is instructed to email this address upon my death.
I have a rule on my mail account that matches the specified text in the email.
This email then triggers a whole load of actions:
Unsubscribes from mailing lists.
*Emails a personal message to people on my contact list.
*Sends an email with the relevant passwords to the relevant people.
*Sends an email with my finances, spreadsheets, important information to the sender.
*Sends an encrypted key to specified person which can access my harddisk.
*sends a list of things to shred!

This pretty much covers everything I need, including getting the relevant passwords to the right people, and auto emailing a personalised message to my contacts.

BeforeYouAreGone.com (1)

WebCudgel (966350) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889533)

www.BeforeYouAreGone.com is a site for discussing the issues related to dealing with online "property" after your (or someone else's) passing. Not intended to provide all-in-one solutions, but provide awareness about this growing issue.

Is This An Issue? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889549)

Old people have easy to guess passwords.
Typically, the old people /.ers deal with are their parents. /.ers will often already know their parents' passwords.

What makes you think you'll be any different when you're old? Those whippersnappers will have some newfangled gadget you won't understand, and they'll be using it on YOUR lawn.

In the case of unexpected death - who cares?
99.9% of people don't have anything important.
For the few that do, they have lawyers that can wrangle online accounts.

Encrypted data should be dealt with in the same way as always - keep a method to decrypt it, whether you're dead or not doesn't matter. Dead guys generally have thumbprints and retinas, but you might want to stick with the encrypted text file with the master password stored in your will, tattooed somewhere only the mortician will find, etc.

Or just use a sealed security envelope with a hard copy of passwords in a safe deposit box. Or that fancy spy flash paper that burns a few seconds after you remove it from it's case.

If it's of galactic importance, just stick it on Orion's belt.

password protection scheme (1)

codemaster2b (901536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889567)

I keep a large document of all my passwords to anything stored online. Hey, I couldn't remember them all anyway. That document is open-document-text password-encrypted. I haven't examined the security rating of that encryption, but the file is readily secured and readily decryptable by just about anyone who knows the password. My password changes, but always fits a certain encoding scheme that is a well-known standard. So I can tell someone, "Matthew 5" is my master password, and they could figure out the exact greek-to-english spelling necessary to be my password.

Basically, you have to trust someone with your passwords. its not like my dad is going to search my files. But if I were to pass suddenly, he would know how to access my passwords

Jason Wynn (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889599)

I have the same setup Jason Wynn had in the movie adaptation of Spawn. Except, instead of releasing a deadly virus when my heart stops, it releases my usernames and passwords.

Picking up the remains... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889635)

I was hired by a woman who ran a very small business out of her basement. Her son ran two servers for her, containing about 20 web sites, DNS, and email for the domains, among other things.

The son died suddenly, and took the passwords to the servers with him. She had no way to update anything on the servers, and no way to even log into them. After a few months she was getting desperate, and a friend of a friend connected us.

I managed to get into the servers after an hours work or so (the son used a previous girlfriend's name as the password, not a tough guess) and get her fixed up.

After I did that job, I wrote a huge list of all of my user ID's and passwords, and put them in my safe deposit box. You never know...

Been done... sort of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25889645)

Is someone astroturfing for YouveBeenLeftBehind.com ?

I'm going to die? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889651)

Is /. trying to tell us something?

Adrian Chen (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889665)

How about a nice video that Adrian Chen did for his own death:

http://vimeo.com/1417352 [vimeo.com]

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