1 Corinthians 15:53-56 (ESV) – “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

A can of albacore tuna has a “best by” date. After that it might be bad. A gallon of milk has an expiration date. It won’t taste good when it goes bad. Even my medications have an expired date. Let’s face it, we all have an expiration date and we are all perishable. It isn’t something we like to think about, but it is reality. I am thankful for another reality. It is the truth found in I Corinthians chapter 15. This is a chapter of hope. It isn’t a hope-so hope. It is a certain hope and expectation. Read the full chapter to find where my hope rests.

Know this: riches don’t last forever and everyone dies. The expiration date might be sooner than you might think. When my dad perished from cancer, he left some interesting puzzles for my mom to work through. He had some things under lock-and-key. The problem for several of these was that we didn’t have the keys. Eventually we found some of them, but it was a difficult to try to locate his clever hiding places. Apparently, he never thought someone might need to locate them. It was a struggle.

You have many things under lock-and-key as well. Yes, you might have a safe or a safety deposit box. You have car keys and house or apartment keys. But it is very likely you also have various digital keys to financial assets. Most people do. I have keys for Fidelity Investments, Facebook, Weiss Ratings and to our bank accounts. The keys include a user ID and password. Sometimes there are other required parameters as well.

Protecting digital assets is a wise thing to do, but don’t forget that you also need to protect your loved ones. Here is what you should do before your perishable body expires:

  1. Make a list of your assets. This should include digital assets and passwords. Don’t forget email, social media, insurance, credit card, banks, brokerage and other important logins that you use monthly or annually.
  2. Have a backup of all key electronic files. The backup should be on a drive you control and store safely in addition to any cloud-based backups. This includes tax returns if you prepare your own taxes with a tool like Turbotax.
  3. Make certain you have a will and other estate planning documents prepared and available for your heirs. Don’t forget to have Power of Attorney set up for your finances. You might not expire quickly, and someone might need to help you before your final expiration date.
Fidelity Viewpoints (March 29, 2017) “Estate planning for the digital era” provides some helpful insight regarding proper planning. Here is one very helpful suggestion:

“Work with an estate planning attorney to update your wills, powers of attorney, and any revocable living trusts. They should include language giving lawful consent for providers to divulge the contents of your electronic communications to the appropriate people. You also might consider exactly which information you want to make available, according to Lamm. ‘A blanket authorization may not be appropriate,’ he says. ‘You might not be comfortable making all digital assets accessible to your fiduciaries.’ Tip: In your estate planning documents, specifically allow your fiduciaries to bypass, reset, or recover your passwords.”

Note: Lamm is “Estate planning attorney James Lamm, with Gray Plant Mooty in Minneapolis, Minn.”