DEAR ABBY: My problem concerns my children and others who may have to deal with my finances or estate should I become ill or die.
I constantly get requests from credit card companies and other businesses, like utilities, urging me to "go paperless." "Save a tree ... save a forest!" While I'm sympathetic, I worry that if I were to get sick and no paper bills arrive in my mailbox, my children wouldn't know they need to be paid. (They have my durable power of attorney.) If everything arrives online, they'll have no access to that information. Bills and late fees will accumulate, and no one will be the wiser.
This is why I resist. I pay many of my bills online, but I also receive paper documents. I know many companies and credit card issuers are unsympathetic about reducing or eliminating late fees, regardless of the situation. I don't trust them to waive these fees -- even if I'm desperately ill or dead. I don't know how to "go paperless" and keep my children informed at the same time. Abby, your column could create a national dialogue on this problem. Thank you. -- DEBORAH IN ST. CLOUD, MINN.
DEAR DEBORAH: Before you go paperless, make a list of all of your accounts and usernames and passwords. There is software that allows people to upload their account information into so-called "digital vaults" for storage. Alternatively, the information could be written down and placed with your health care and financial powers of attorney.
To make certain that everything goes smoothly should you become incapacitated, or in the event of your death, give a list of your current digital information to someone you trust, let people know who has that information, and leave instructions on how you want things handled.