Legacy Locker Frees Digital Assets from Password Purgatory

New service stores and, after you're gone, passes on the keys to online accounts

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Passwords and usernames are the worst part of digital living. They're even worse when it comes to digital death. All those multiple accounts get locked in password purgatory -- and sometimes worse. They can permanently shut out family and friends from crucial assets and communications after someone dies.

So it's easy to get the idea behind the new Legacy Locker service that will launch next month. The service goes beyond the typical lists of accounts and passwords that many of us might keep (sticky notes, anyone?). Legacy Locker actively manages the list by periodically accessing accounts, alerting users when it fails and prompting them to update the username and password they have on file.

For each account, customers also designate a beneficiary who's entrusted with the digital assets, be they photos on Flickr, E-mails on Hotmail or cold cash in PayPal. Users can write a letter to posthumously accompany the digital assets.

Legacy Locker also uses decidedly non-tech humans to confirm an untimely passing. The service will contact two verifiers designated by the account holder, and will require a certified copy of the death certificate before releasing the locked-up data.

When it comes to paying its way, Legacy Locker adopts the "freemium" approach that's ever-more popular on the Web. The service offers a basic free version that covers three digital assets (accounts) that can be passed on to one beneficiary. Paid plans include unlimited assets and beneficiaries, and cost $30 a year or $300 a lifetime.

Of course, that's the lifetime of the user, or the lifetime of the San Francisco startup, whichever leaves us first.