How to Securely Store and Share Your Information and Documents

Overview: How to Securely Store and Share Your Information and Documents

Organizing and securely storing your financial and legal documents, estate planning documents, personal information, and online accounts can save your family a huge amount of stress and difficulty after you're gone.

Without access to your important documents and information, your family will likely have to locate all of this info on their own, which can be complicated and challenging—and even then, they might not find everything.

By organizing your information and sharing it with your family, you can help them more easily apply for and claim benefits, get through the probate process, close bank accounts, pay any final estate or income taxes, avoid unnecessary charges from ongoing subscriptions, and distribute, sell, or donate any personal items that were not included in your will, among other things.

What You Need to Know

There are a variety of different ways you can make sure your family has access to your important documents, accounts, and information. Think about which method would be easiest for you to accomplish, or which method would be easiest for your family to access and use.


Secure Online Storage

There are a number of online services that can provide semi-secure and very secure online information and document storage. We recommend—they have a simple system for online storage that allows you to give access to different pieces of information to different people in your family, and it's also available as an iPhone app.

To help you get started, Everplans and Personal have created a special page where you can store all the information and documents that are especially relevant to end-of-life planning. Click the button below to start.


Offline Storage

Many families find it easiest to save printed copies of various documents and information and keep them in a physical folder in a safe place in the house. We recommend keeping everything—including advance directives, wills, financial information/passwords, and funeral/disposition instructions—all together in a single place, like a locked file cabinet. While this method makes it easy for your family to find everything and doesn't require much tech knowledge, it's not the most secure way to store your information.

If you are going to store your information and documents online, here are some tips:

• Organize related information and documents into clearly labeled folders, such as "Life Insurance," "Credit Cards," "Utilities," and other categories.
• Be sure to tell a number of people whom you trust where the documents are stored. You could consider telling your spouse, your adult children, or a professional you work with such as your attorney.
• If your documents are stored in a locked location, make sure that the right people know how to access that location, either by having keys or combinations, or knowing where keys or combinations are stored. If your documents are stored in a locked location, the keys or combinations to access those documents should not be stored in the locked location.
• Do not store your documents and information in a safe deposit box. The bank will likely require your family to get a court order to access the box, which could take a long time.