Passwords and POA’s

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Passwords and POA’s
Gray Easterling

If you became incapacitated, would your spouse or immediate caretaker know how to access your computer bill paying sites, your on-line banking information, e-mails and other digital information that require a password to implement? If the answer is no, then you may have a problem. Trying to manage your affairs without the keys to your digital life could create serious problems for your family, according to a March 2, 2011 online article in MSN Money. Without access to banking information and/or insurance info, finding funding for medical expenses could be difficult. If you have gone paperless, your family may not know what bills to pay or what accounts to pay them out of. You might have to go to court to make this information available to you. You need to leave a trail. There are digital solutions—websites—that may serve as online safe deposit boxes for your critical information and will release it only to persons you designate. There is also password management software that allows you to access all your password protected sites with a single master password. The master password would have to be shared with someone that you trust implicitly. There is also the old-fashioned way. Create a list of passwords on a sheet of paper and store it with the appropriate person or institution. Be sure to update the list as you change your passwords and include answers to any security questions associated with a particular site. If you are really a detail person, you can develop a spreadsheet that lists accounts, account numbers, contact phone numbers, online ID’s and passwords.

This topic also leads into the importance of a power of attorney. In a February, 2011 issue of Financial Planning, there is an article that gives some guidance on this topic. To start, a power of attorney (POA) is a document that authorizes an individual to act on another’s behalf in legal, financial or business matters. It can be designed to handle general everyday needs or limited to specific purposes. Obviously, it is important that you get proper legal advice to make sure your document meets your needs. If you have a financial, legal or tax advisor, you may want to give them copies of the POA. As with most legal documents, it should be updated in a timely manner. In today’s world, you should discuss with your attorney the need for a healthcare proxy which designates someone to make health and medical decisions on your behalf. It would also be helpful if you could introduce to your advisors the person/persons you have authorized to make decisions by means of these documents. You have saved your money, you have planned your retirement, you have made your budget. Why not take one more step and provide for a smooth transition in the event of an unforeseen bump in the road?

Riding back from Monroe several weeks ago, I heard a country song that struck a chord. The gist of it concerns a young man sitting on his girlfriend’s roof trying to decide what his next move would be. In the song, his “shy” girlfriend smiles at him and asks, “Are you going to kiss me or not?”, which is the name of the song. It goes on like this: “Are we gonna do this or not? I think you know that I like you a lot, but you’re about to miss your shot. Are you going to kiss me or not?” Two thoughts immediately popped into my head. First, I thought back to my first “real” kiss and what a disaster it was. In looking back, I am surprised that my date didn’t burst out laughing. Fortunately for me, she had compassion and allowed me to find my way. We had a good but not permanent relationship. The second feeling was my God smiling down at me and saying, “Are you going to love me or not? I really think that we have a good shot, but you have to make the choice. This can be something special, but only if you choose me.” I pray that you make the right choice, because, in the words of another 50’s song, “To know, know, know Him is to love, love, love Him.” And I do, and I do and I do!”

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