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Life insurance for your passwords: Legacy Locker

What happens to your blogs and photo pages when you die? Legacy Locker can tell your loved ones your passwords, so they can decide.

Jeremy Toeman is unveiling on Tuesday a simple, clever, and very different kind of backup service.

Legacy Locker simply backs up the passwords and access codes to your online accounts. When you die, it gives that information to the people you designate.

I got this concept in half a second: if I go, I cannot imagine the trouble my wife would have trying to untangle my financial and e-mail accounts and deal with my contacts on my social networks, not to mention controlling the disposition of some online assets I own, like domain names.

The idea with Legacy Locker is to give your survivors easy access to your photo, blog, social network, e-mail, and other personal online sites so they can figure out what to do with the info and files stored there. Or, possibly, so your survivors can reach out to your followers or friends to let them know what's happened to you.

You can include financial accounts in your Legacy Locker file, although as Toeman reminded me, the rules of what to do with financial assets in the event of an account-holder's death are already established. You have responded to your bank's request to fill out a beneficiary form, haven't you?

Now, sure, you could easily do all of this for free by writing down all your codes and instructions, and putting that information in a safe or the hands of a family lawyer. Legacy Locker offers more fail-safes and features than a slip of paper, though. It can also distribute different access codes to different people.

The system periodically tries to log on to your accounts for you. If it can't--if you've changed passwords--it alerts you to update your records. Also, Legacy Locker only unlocks if two people whom you've designated confirm your death, and even then only if one of them supplies a death certificate to the company. Legacy Locker staff handles this; the unlock procedure is not wholly automated. Toeman claims that the system's files are all encrypted and cannot be unlocked without authorization.

You can set up your account to send out farewell letters to people you designate (or post items on sites per your instructions), if you die. The product also has a form of living will, an incapacitation mode (I call it, "coma mode"), that will turn on autoreplies and otherwise idle your accounts, without sending out your goodbyes.

Consumers will be able to buy Legacy Locker directly, for $29.99 a year or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription, but the company's real plan is to sell this service through estate planners. There are 35,000 of them in the United States, Toeman said, the ones he's contacted seem eager to resell this service to their customers.

Legacy Locker is morbid, but smart. It's scheduled to go live in April.

Related: Taking passwords to the grave.