David Harris knows first-hand how stressful tracking down life insurance policies, wills, burial plans and other estate-related information can be. Following the death of his stepmother, Harris recalls trying to help his grieving father locate some of these important documents. Harris himself was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and told to get his assets in order. While dealing with all the other stresses that come along with such a diagnosis, he searched for some kind of electronic service or product that would allow him to keep his estate information in one place and have it distributed to his loved ones.
"When I was told I had 12 to 18 months, I began to look for what was available to get my assets in order. ... there was nothing in the marketplace that offered a secure environment that allowed me to be able to store my information and then pick whom I wanted to receive my information," he recalls.
So Harris launched his own company, Assets in Order, to provide a product called Legacy Lockbox, an online planning and storage service that enables members to organize and update their assets and personal information in a single, secure place for future access by loved ones.
"This is not just my situation," says Harris. "Everyone I talk to has experienced this through a death and realizes there needs to be a product in place, or they've heard of a situation with a family member or friend. Besides mourning the loss of a loved one, you still have to deal with all of the financial and other issues, and you need that information."
The service can be offered as an employer-paid voluntary benefit or as an employee-paid benefit.
When a lockbox is purchased, the employee identifies at least two verifiers - people whom Assets in Order will contact in the event of their death. The firm then reaches out to the verifiers, letting them know they've been identified.
The employee also designates recipients for the information - people to whom Assets in Order will release the digital content from the lockbox. The online service is protected by 256-bit encryption and can accommodate a range of file types, including audio and video.
Anyone can report a death to Assets in Order; once the firm's been notified, an email gets sent to the lockbox verifiers, asking for confirmation. Once the death is confirmed, Assets in Order reaches out to the family or funeral home to request a death certificate. Once that is received, an email is sent to the recipients with information about how to access the information in the lockbox.
In addition to going directly to employers, the service is offered through brokers. The lockbox service costs $19.95 per year for individuals and can be purchased through payroll deduction. Employers can get a group discount if they decide to offer the service as an employer-paid benefit.
"It's low cost to the employer, but high value to the employee," says Harris. So far, 15 companies across the U.S. are offering the service to their employees.
"If the employee leaves the company, they can continue to keep the Legacy Lockbox; they just pick up the annual fee," says Harris.
In addition to storing documents, the Legacy Lockbox can be used to store social media account and email passwords, a benefit that may appeal to workers who are active on social media.
"Many employees have Facebook, they have Twitter and different email passwords," says Harris. "They store that information in their lockbox and if something should happen to them, they've identified somebody who can then get into their Facebook account and shut it down."
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