Thoughts, ideas, suggestions and education from financial adviser Jim Ludwick, Founder of MainStreet Financial Planning, Inc. of Odenton, MD; Washington, DC; New York City, and Santa Barbara, CA

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Have a Digital Control Plan

My best friend died two years ago this month.  I still miss him.  But we had a mutual pact: a digital control plan.  A digital control plan is invoked when someone is incapacitated or dies.  A surrogate takes over control of that person’s digital accounts, websites, blogs and files.

I had a sealed envelope and an encrypted hard drive located in my friend’s gun safe eight miles away from my home office.  He had a sealed envelope located in my safe in our garage.

I went to the safe the day after he died, sad as all get out, and retrieved his envelope to hand over to his only child, a 40 year old son I had known since age six.  

My friend grew up with computers and the internet.  He worked in Air Force intelligence and later at the National Security Agency.  He taught me everything I know about computers and the internet up until the time of this death.  He helped me put together my first computer from a Heath kit by instructing me over the telephone.  He was very smart and talented in those electronic ways.

So how can you benefit from best friend’s advice?

1.     Think about who will be your digital surrogate and also have a backup digital surrogate.  Implement a joint plan.
2.     Confirm that the storage is secure and has very limited access.  Provide the same for your surrogate.
3.     Ascertain a safe distance away from each other.  We thought eight miles was enough distance since weather, fire, utility outage and civil disruption were not major factors, in our opinion.
4.     Learn how to encrypt an external hard drive and use it
5.     Use a tamper revealing envelope
6.     Don’t forget to update your envelope contents as often as you change master password(s) and you create/update the external hard drive for offsite storage.  Remember, the bad guys force us to change our passwords a lot more frequently these days.

R.I.P. MSgt. Robert Lloyd, USAF Ret., 1944-2012


Don’t forget about cloud storage.  I use SugarSync, and  Don’t be stuck with one provider.  What happens if your sole provider goes down?  Always have a backup.