In the case of an emergency, does your spouse or other close relative or friend have access to your important account information?
It’s not easy to think about the possibility of something happening to a family member, friend or yourself, but it’s important to be prepared. Consumer Reports recently addressed this concern, after a recent Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of Internet users in a marriage or committed relationship have not shared the password to one or more of their online accounts with their spouse or partner.
Why it’s important to share account information
There are a variety of scenarios when having access to each other’s account information could become important. Many couples talk about doing this and then never get around to it. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
For example, if spouse one handles the household finances and controls all of the online and other account information and passwords, and doesn’t share that information, it can add more stress to spouse two in the event that that spouse one becomes incapacitated. Even if spouse one has a list compiled somewhere with all of this information, but doesn’t share it, that doesn’t do much good in the case of an emergency. Even if you both have separate accounts for various things, it’s important to share access to that information in case the other person ever needs it.
Easy ways to share account information
It’s important to make sure that you keep the information in a place that’s secure, as well as easy for you and your partner to update and access at any time.
Clark recommends using a password manager. These are online programs and apps that safely store your passwords and other account information, requiring you to remember just one master password. These are also good for anyone who wants a safe place to store all of their different log-ins and passwords, since many websites now have a lot of requirements for passwords and it can be difficult to remember which combination you used where.
Here are a few password managers that Consumer Reports recommends, since they have a sharing feature:
- DashLane: DashLane.com is a free service for basic capabilities or $12 annually if you want to upgrade for more bells and whistles. The basic way DashLane works is by generating a new master password for you everyday, so all your accounts stay locked down. The service also offers the ability to act as an automatic form filler.
- Last Pass
Consumer Reports also notes that you should make sure to keep your spouse, or whoever you share your account information with, updated with the current master password, because if you try to log in without it, the program could delete all of your information. For example, after too many failed attempts to log in to Keeper, the program deletes everything in the account.
Another way to share information is the most basic way — in a notebook you keep stored in a safe place. Check out Clark’s Record, Paperwork and File Keeping Guide for more details on which documents to keep and how to safely get rid of the rest.
Other important information to share
In the case of an emergency, there are other important documents and pieces of information that you and your spouse should keep in a shared file or other secure location. If one of you were to become incapacitated, or unavailable for any reason, think about the accounts and other info you might need access to.
Consumer Reports suggests keeping the following info and documents in a shared, safe place:
- Household resources: Contact information for people or companies who help you handle things around the house (who would fix certain things if they broke?).
- Home and car documents: Any files regarding your insurance policies or other ownership records.
- Financial documents: Financial account information and passwords, as well as contact information, for anything related to your household and personal finances, including bank accounts, retirement accounts etc.