Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend musings of a Global Digirati: PINs That Needle Families

I was reading a fascinating article in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal titled “PINs That Needle Families.” The article touches a nerve and also makes one reflect on our digital life and afterlife:
What happens if, god forbade, one were suddenly incapacitated or worse, drop dead?

After the logistics of sorting through the last rights etc, my better half would have to begin picking up the pieces. This includes sorting through my complex web of finances, bank and brokerage accounts, some of which I have left open in the countries I have lived and worked in during the past decade and half. Couples generally manage finances independently and Suja and I are no exception. Though my wife has a general idea of my finances, she doesn’t know all the intricacies of the various accounts that I manage.

As a global digirati, my financial management is as complex, eclectic and globally distributed as the Enterprise Architecture engagements I undertake. Some were opened because of account-opening incentives I received and keep open ‘just in case.’ Given my frequent relocations in the past years, I prefer being green: receiving online only statements. I admit there is a need to ‘rationalize’ my portfolio of accounts but that digresses from the problem at hand: how will my better half get access to my accounts?

I had a conversation with my mother on this very topic when I was in India last year; tough we decided that giving her the details of my financial accounts wasn’t the most practical solution. We discussed the possibility of my exchanging the details with my brother who lives in London, half-way around the world.

As the article alludes, the process of managing accounts and corresponding passwords does not have a cookie-cutter solution (yet). Writing it down in a sheet of paper or diary wouldn’t be ‘secure.’ And storing them in a digital file? Also, any solution would need constant maintenance to ensure synch-up with the changes to account password I have to make periodically. I am yet to evaluate a password management service: I guess am not ready to add yet another digital service/tool to my life.