(This bit of nonfiction is being written in response to recent events; it also seems to fit the "communication" part of the theme, "Community & Communication", of this month's Crowdfunding Creative Jam)
Someone died recently and left his widow with a problem: his computer's hard drive is encrypted, and he didn't leave the recovery key or his password anywhere that she can find.
This is not unlike losing track of the key to the safe deposit box, forgetting the combination to the safe, or neglecting to make out a will. "But I have all that in a file on my computer!" I hear you cry.
You need a JustIn Case file, someplace where it's safe but reasonably easy to find if anything happens to you. (I'm talking to myself here, too, by the way.) The bare minimum is whatever it takes to get into your computer (a FileVault recovery key, BitLocker PIN, or alternate admin password) and possibly into your password file, browser keychain, or whatever. *That* information needs to be in a couple of different places known to your family! At least one place should be outside your house, e.g. with a trusted relative, your lawyer, your safe deposit box, or the like. The other place should be in your house, e.g. in a locked filing cabinet (they're pretty easy to break into if necessary). Lable the file "Justin Case".
Even if almost everything is on your hard drive, there's a minimum set of things that have to be written down on hardcopy:
- Your master password, recovery key, or whatever it takes to get into your data. Or at least all of your data that you don't want effectively burned when you're gone. (Keep that separate.)
- The location of your will, safe deposit box, offsite backups, retirement and bank accounts, life insurance policies, and so on.
- The name of your executor/executrix.
- Any important information that your family is likely to need
My plan is to add an SD card with my most important files on it -- I checked, and the directory with all my passwords, tax information, receipts, and so on is only about 200MB. Perfect use for an old 500MB card or thumb drive that's too small to be useful for anything else.
Don't forget to update it if you change your password! That, after all, is the main point of this little exercise.